Christina Rees, MP for Neath, attended a thank you event in Parliament on Wednesday 22 March hosted by Anthony Nolan, in recognition of her support for the blood cancer charity’s successful campaign to fund a lifesaving treatment.
Christina backed the ‘Defend Second Transplants’ campaign after NHS England announced last July it would no longer routinely fund second stem cell transplants for people whose blood cancer or blood disorder relapses, effectively denying patients a cure.
Anthony Nolan’s campaign received a huge level of public support: more than 25,000 people took action by signing an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health, writing to their MP, or signing a petition calling for NHS England’s decision to be reversed.
In response to the Anthony Nolan campaign, on 24 February NHS England announced new funding for second transplants, providing hope for up to 20 patients annually in England whose blood cancer or blood disorder relapses after a year or more.
Christina Rees MP said: “I am proud to have played my part to Defend Second Transplants, which ensures blood cancer patients will be offered potentially lifesaving treatment.
“Speaking to patients and experts at Anthony Nolan brings home just how important funding for second transplants is – thanks to this campaign people with blood cancer and blood disorders, whose disease relapses, have been given another chance of life.”
At the event, held in the House of Commons, Anthony Nolan awarded certificates, featuring messages of gratitude from patients, to thank parliamentary supporters for their involvement. Anthony Nolan’s Patient Ambassador Emma Paine also attended; 29-year-old Emma has received two stem cell transplants to treat her myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and has now recovered and is returning to work.
“Because of my second transplant I’m stronger, I have my freedom back, and I can plan for the future,” said Emma. “Thanks to all the people who took action, and the MPs who supported this campaign, this vital treatment is now an option for the people who need it.”
Katie Begg, Assistant Director of Engagement at Anthony Nolan, said: “We’re very grateful to Christina MP for her support for our Defend Second Transplants campaign. Thanks to them, their colleagues in Parliament, and the thousands of people who took action, patients in need of a second transplant because their blood cancer or blood disorder has relapsed can get the treatment they need.”
The event was also attended by Sasha Jones, who was denied a second transplant by NHS England in August 2016, and her friend Amy Collins. Amy created a petition on Sasha’s behalf that garnered more than 168,000 signatures in support of second transplants.