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Deaf Community Respond to Max’s Stem Cell Plea



A young boys plea to help his dad find a stem cell donor has now reached the deaf community thanks to the help of Deafness Support Network.

After finding out that he had just seven years to live, dad-of-two Peter McCleave, 40 from Bunbury set out on a mission to get 10,000 people to pledge to become registered as stem cell donors.

However, his plight was given an unexpected boost when eight-year-old son Max penned a heartfelt letter appealing for people to help his dad find a match and other people with blood cancer too.

With an initial target of 10,000, a feature on ITV Granada and dozens of articles in national newspapers helped the number swell to over 22,000, reaching beyond the shores of the UK, and across the world eventually being translated into more than a dozen languages.

After spotting the appeal on the TV, Operations Executive Gill Reeder contacted the Bunbury-based family to see if DSN could assist them to reach a more diverse audience by translating it into British Sign Language (BSL).

“While I knew we were doing great things with the campaign, when DSN got in touch it really made me think hard about who and how we communicate the important message to; and the D/deaf audience should be no different in that,” said Peter whose efforts have now found five matching donors.

Peter who is still on the hunt for a matching donor himself, aims to get as many people as possible to register to with charity DKMS and take a simple swab test from the inside of the cheeks.

“It’s a very easy test and can save so many lives and this is why Max’s letter was so great, it broke it down so simply,” said Peter. “We have been astounded to have found five matches already and even if I never find a match, I know that at least I have helped others to stay alive.”

With more than 100,000 people in Cheshire living with a hearing loss, and the figure set to rise, DSN’s Gill Reeder said she was delighted to be able to help share the message to those who use BSL.

“It’s very difficult for the deaf community to help with these types of campaigns and appeals because so often, there isn’t the translation into BSL,” said Gill. “We hope that the message spreads not only to those in Cheshire, Wrexham and Flintshire that we help, but to the national deaf community using BSL too.

A video was filmed at Max’s school last week with the assistance of DSN’s BSL interpreter Akebe Pursell-Watterson and Nicola Badger, the Bunbury and Aldersey Primary School headteacher.

To find out more go to

Link to downloadable video here:

Picture caption: Peter, Jen, Max and Sam McCleave with DSN’s Gill Reeder and Mrs Badger, headteacher at Bunbury and Aldersey CE Primary School.