A north-east man has set himself a £10,000 challenge to give back to the charity that saved his sibling’s life.
In December 2019, George Buchan’s brother William was struck with an “ultra rare” illness that only affects around one in 500,000 people.
He was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia, a disorder where his bone marrow stopped producing enough blood cells.
While the exact cause is not known, many patients suffer fatigue, shortness of breath and headaches, among other symptoms.
The only treatment available to William was a stem cell transplant – but the family ran into difficulties when they found his twin sister Olivia was not a match.
‘They saved his life’
But his fortunes were soon turned around when they got in contact with charity Anthony Nolan.
His brother George said: “It is no exaggeration to say they saved his life.”
Anthony Nolan operates a register with more than 800,000 people to find matches for patients in need of a stem cell transplant.
But it costs the organisation £40 for each person who signs up.
Mr Buchan has now set out on a mission to raise £10,000 for the cause and give something back.
The 26-year-old has already posed for a nude calendar and has been asking sponsors to help decide his next haircut.
He is also preparing to run the virtual Edinburgh Marathon along the banks of the Ythan, near his Ellon family home.
“We’ve been incredibly fortunate but the fact of the matter is not everyone is,” he said.
“I’m aiming to raise £10,000 and I’m at more than £6,500 so far.
“It costs £40 to register a new donor – so that’s 160-odd new donors, which could potentially be 160 second chances for people.
“I’m thinking about how lucky we’ve been, so if I can impact other people it will be fantastic.”
‘I’d have thought you were barking mad’
He added: “It was hard for all of us – and one of those things that puts everything into perspective.
“I was in a really busy period with my job and worrying about that, but William’s diagnosis put everything into context for me.
“It was very hard and he’s still classed as ultra-vulnerable so has been shielding.
“He’s meant to be at uni but he’s spent 400 days at home with his parents – and that’s not what most 21-year-olds would want to be doing.”
Mr Buchan signed up to run the virtual Edinburgh Marathon in November, and has been learning more about Anthony Nolan and how it has changed people’s lives as he trains.
He added: “If you told me two or three years ago I’d be doing a marathon, I’d have thought you were barking mad.
“It’s out of my comfort zone and going to be a real challenge.
“But it’s been amazing hearing other people’s stories and how Anthony Nolan has touched their lives.
“The past year has obviously been hard for everyone, especially charities who have really struggled to maintain their fundraising.
“I wanted to give something back to the charity which has helped my family so much.”
For more information visit: justgiving.com/fundraising/george-buchan2021
Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, said the charity is “extremely grateful” for Mr Buchan’s work and added: “George has witnessed the work of Anthony Nolan first-hand, and we are so glad that his brother William is now doing well following his transplant.
“It costs £40 to add each new donor to the Anthony Nolan register, so the funds raised by George will enable us to recruit more potential stem cell donors, any one of whom could give a second chance of life to someone with blood cancer.”