A caring teenager has given the gift of life after donating bone marrow to save a dying man in America.
Family members and a donor charity have praised Joseph Bennett, 19, for his amazing act of transatlantic generosity.
Modest Joseph, of Low Road, Conisbrough, said: “The operation is a little painful in the short term, but in the long term you can help to save someone’s life. There’s no better feeling than that.”
The car dealership service advisor was inspired to put himself on the Anthony Nolan charity donor register after watching an emotional meeting between a young patient and his donor on ITV show Surprise! Surprise! last year.
After he gave a saliva sample, the charity got in touch in March and said they had found a match for a patient who was in urgent need for bone marrow. Only around one in 1000 people on the register ever come up as a match for someone who needs a transplant.
Joseph said: “I was really moved by what I saw on TV so I thought I would reply to their appeal.
“The whole thing is done anonymously so you don’t know the person you are donating to. But they did say it was an American male who had leukaemia.”
He had an operation to remove bone marrow from his pelvis at King’s College Hospital in London on Wednesday, July 30.
He said: “The Anthony Nolan charity was fantastic. They paid for me and my mum to travel down and for hotel accommodation.
“I would definitely do it again and I would urge other people to do it and become a life-saver.”
He added: “After two years they ask if you want to get in touch with the patient and I might do that. I’ve asked to be kept informed of how things go.”
Mum Nicola, 44, manger of the Royal Voluntary Service in Rotherham, said: “I am so proud of him for what he has done.
“I think your bone marrow regenerates itself in under three weeks so it really is worth doing. It may save someone’s life.”
Ann O’Leary, head of register development at Anthony Nolan, said: “Joseph has done an incredibly selfless thing and given someone with blood cancer their best chance at survival. We are delighted that he has now been inspired to encourage others to sign up as donors. We particularly need young men to join the register as they are the most likely to be chosen to donate.”
People aged 16-30 can join the register online at www.anthonynolan.org. Joining the register involves a quick online form and spitting into a tube.