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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Lifesaving donation by Cumbria man has laid foundation for firm friendship

A DONOR and recipient, who met in Barrow on Saturday, have vowed their meeting will be just the beginning of an enduring friendship.

Sean Hagan, 23, from Askam, donated his stem cells to save the life of Johnny Pearson.

On Sunday, April 13 the two men will run the London Marathon together.

They will become the first donor and recipient to run together in the history of the famous race.

Mr Pearson, who has a wife, Sarah, and two boys, Jack, 12, and Archie, 10, was fighting acute myeloid leukaemia when he received the news there was hope.

The 44-year-old said: “I got into remission after six months of chemotherapy. I relapsed after a month-and-a-half back at work.

“I had six weeks in hospital with unsuccessful chemotherapy, which put me at an all-time low and I felt really down.

“I had to go back for another round of chemotherapy because if they found a donor it would only work if I was in remission. I got pneumonia and it was touch and go for a while.

“It was at that time I heard this man was looking to donate stem cells and that was definitely what got me through.”

Mr Hagan believes fate has brought them to this stage. Now both men are doing an incredible amount to raise funds and awareness for Anthony Nolan, the UK’s blood cancer charity and bone marrow register.

They met at a black tie fundraiser at Abbey House Hotel, Barrow, on Saturday, organised by Mr Hagan’s sisters, Charlotte Hagan and Alarna Butcher.

“The day we met was the beginning of our friendship,” said Mr Hagan, a commissioning engineer at BAE Systems.

“This really just cements our relationship as a pair of friends now.”

Mr Pearson hinted that he’d like to involve Mr Hagan in another challenge. He added: “I’m not revealing anything yet.”

Training for the London Marathon has been hard work for Mr Pearson who is still on the road to recovery and for Mr Hagan who works shifts at the shipyard.

“We’re going to run together all the way,” said Mr Pearson, from North Yorkshire. “My tactic is to follow Sean because he is a lot fitter than I am. He’s saved my life once, he can do it again!”

Mr Hagan is very humble about what he’s done. When asked what it means to him he said: “It’s very hard to put into words but I would do it again.

“I just wish people knew how easy it is. It’s just been amazing. I’ve become so attached to Anthony Nolan now.”

Sean Hagan and Johnny Pearson are collecting sponsorship on their justgiving sites. Collectively they have raised more than £4,600 for the charity so far.

lSee Saturday’s Big Night Out page for more pictures from the fundraising event at Abbey House Hotel.

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