A SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD blood cancer patient whose life was saved by a stranger is staging an event to encourage more young people to become stem cell donors as a thank you for his second chance at life.

Thomas Court, from Bedale, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia when he was just sixteen in April last year.

He said: “At that moment everything stopped and I was admitted to hospital to undergo seven months of intense treatment – the hardest days of my life.

"During gruelling chemotherapy and fighting infections including sepsis, I was told my leukaemia was of high risk of returning, so I would need a bone marrow transplant. I was devastated and waited anxiously to see if my family were a match ­– unfortunately, they were not."

However, through the Anthony Nolan charity, which raises awareness and recruits potential donors, a vital close match was found.

“It was a selfless man, a complete stranger who had signed up to the register and was now willing to donate his bone marrow to save my life," added Thomas.

"I and my family will be forever grateful. Knowing there was someone out there gave me hope.”

Despite serious complications including liver failure and graft versus host disease, Thomas is now slowly but surely recovering and has paid tribute to the NHS team which brought him through it, his devoted family and girlfriend Kate.

“None of this could have happened without the Antony Nolan register and that selfless amazing man. I have been given a second chance at life and I am not wasting it,” added Thomas who is now playing his drums, taking GCSEs and looking forward to university

His mother Laura said: “Before all this we were unaware how important the charity is and the impact of its results. Thomas wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for his donor.

"We would like to help and get as many people as possible to sign the register. It involves a simple swab of the mouth and ten minutes time. If you are between 16 and 30 and in good health, please come and help us make a difference."

The event is being held at Bedale Primary School from 4.30pm to 7.30pm on September 5.

l Anthony Nolan said each day five people start searching for a donor and they particularly need young men to sign up go to www.anthonynolan.org/