Student completes London Marathon with the man who saved her life

The medical student and physiotherapist ran the marathon in support of Anthony Nolan.

A student has completed the London Marathon alongside the stem cell donor who saved her life.

Vicky Lawrence, 21, from Moseley, Birmingham, was diagnosed with severe aplastic anaemia in 2008, when she was eight years old, a condition in which the bone marrow does not produce an adequate number of new blood cells.

Thanks to Elliott Brock, a physiotherapist from Mersea Island, Essex, Ms Lawrence received a transplant that same year.

Ms Lawrence sent Mr Brock a letter in 2015 and the pair met for the first time.

Fast forward to 2021 and they have just completed the London Marathon in support of Anthony Nolan.

Vicky and Elliott running the London Marathon
Vicky and Elliott running the London Marathon (Anthony Nolan/PA)

Ms Lawrence, who is in her fourth year of a medical degree at Newcastle University, told the PA news agency that completing the marathon was “absolutely amazing”.

She said: “Crossing the finish line was so emotional, not just because we’d run 26 miles, but running 26 miles alongside the man who saved your life is a pretty big feat.”

Ms Lawrence added: “A big slogan of Anthony Nolan is without your support, there is no cure.

“Without Elliott donating his stem cells to a stranger, I would not be here. I wouldn’t have made it to Christmas. I would never have had the opportunities I’ve had – to go to university, to study abroad, to play hockey.

“Him donating his stem cells gave me a second life and there are still so many people that need a transplant that are not finding the matches they need, especially among the ethnic minority community.

“Unfortunately if you are of ethnic minority background, you only have a 37% chance of finding a match.”

Mr Brock, 42, who wore a mask and cape during the race, said: “That was a tongue of check nod [to the fact that the] easiest way to be called a hero is to donate your bone marrow.

Elliott wearing a mask and cape .
Elliott wearing a mask and cape (Anthony Nolan/PA)

“I cannot emphasise to people enough that it is pain-free.”

He added: “It was just a day of celebration for London to celebrate having their marathon back.

“The crowds were amazing and obviously to be side-by-side with the girl whose life, through the amazing work of Anthony Nolan, I managed to save sort of 13 years ago was just surreal really.

“It’s a lovely story of how my simple act made such a massive difference and we are able to celebrate it so many years after.”

Anthony Nolan chief executive Henny Braund said: “We are so grateful to Vicky and Elliott for running to raise funds and awareness of Anthony Nolan and the lifesaving work that we do.

“Every day five Vickys, patients with blood cancer or a blood disorder, start their search for an Elliott.

“If you’re aged 16-30 and in good health, please consider joining the Anthony Nolan stem cell register. You could potentially save a life.”

More information on how to join the stem cell register can be found at: www.anthonynolan.org/help-save-a-life/join-stem-cell-register

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access