Find a Match for Jack; EXCLUSIVE Scotland Hero Ally's Transplant Plea to Save His Wee Pal

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), January 27, 2008 | Go to article overview

Find a Match for Jack; EXCLUSIVE Scotland Hero Ally's Transplant Plea to Save His Wee Pal


Byline: By GRACE MACASKILL

ALLY McCOIST has been a football legend to little Jack Rice for all of his seven short years.

Now the Scotland legend could be the hero who helps save his life.

The Rangers assistant manager is begging Scots to join the bone marrow transplant register to give Jack the chance of survival as he fights a rare disease.

Jack suffers from a severe form of aplastic anaemia, which means his body can not produce blood cells to fight infection or control bleeding.

He has been in isolation at the Sick Kids Hospital at Yorkhill, Glasgow, for the last three weeks and doctors say he could die without a transplant.

Ally, 45, said: "Jack is a very special wee boy. His strength and courage are an inspiration and he refuses to let the disease get him down."

"Less than a teaspoon of blood could save Jack and others like him. That's all people have to give."

Ally joined the Anthony Nolan Trust bone marrow register in 1999 after meeting inspirational Scots leukaemia victim Johanna MacVicar.

Johanna persuaded a host of celebrities, including singer Robbie Williams, to join the register before she died aged 27 in 2005.

Her mum Angela now works for the trust, which supports Jack's family while they anxiously await a donor.

Ally said: "Johanna became part of my life and Jack's plight has relit my fire to get the message across.

"I was lucky enough to meet Jack when Rangers and Celtic players visited the hospital at Christmas and was immediately struck by his bravery.

"He is a real character. Primarily this appeal is about Jack but joining the register means you could be a match for anyone in the same position."

One in 50,000 people have aplastic anaemia. Jack's parents - Johnny, 40, and Carrie Anne, 37 - suspected something was wrong when he fell over and developed dark bruises over his legs, chin and arms.

Blood tests revealed he did not have enough platelets, the cells that repair body tissue and clot blood.

He was rushed to hospital last month, where tests revealed he had the most severe form of the disorder. His three-year-old sister Jodi was tested as a bone marrow donor but she was not a match.

Dad Johnny, 40, a self-employed builder, said: "We'd never heard of the disease.

"The doctors told us Jack was a very sick little boy and needed a bone marrow transplant. It was then the shock set in. Jack had never shown any signs of being ill before. …

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