David Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate, attended a thank you event in Parliament on Wednesday 22 March hosted by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, in recognition of his support for second stem cell transplants.
Mr Burrowes backed the ‘Defend Second Transplants’ campaign after NHS England announced it would no longer routinely fund second stem cell transplants for people whose blood cancer or blood disorder relapses, effectively denying these patients a cure.
Mr Burrowes contributed to an important House of Commons debate on access to second transplants in January, during which he urged the Minister for Public Health and Innovation, Nicola Blackwood MP, to take action.
The campaign also received a huge level of public support: more than 25,000 people took action by signing an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health, writing to their MP, or signing a petition calling for NHS England’s decision to be reversed.
In response to the campaign, on 24 February NHS England announced new funding for second transplants, providing hope for up to 20 patients annually in England whose blood cancer or blood disorder relapses after a year or more.
Mr Burrowes, who is Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Stem Cell Transplantation, said: “I am proud to have played a part in the success of this campaign, which has defended the rights of blood cancer patients to potentially lifesaving treatment.
“Speaking to patients and experts at Anthony Nolan brings home just how important funding for second transplants is – thanks to this campaign, people with blood cancer and blood disorders whose disease relapses have been given another chance of life.”
At Wednesday’s event, held in the House of Commons, Anthony Nolan awarded certificates, featuring messages of gratitude from patients, to thank parliamentary supporters for their involvement. Anthony Nolan’s Patient Ambassador Emma Paine also attended; 29-year-old Emma has received two stem cell transplants to treat her myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and has now recovered and is returning to work.
“Because of my second transplant I’m stronger, I have my freedom back, and I can plan for the future,” said Emma. “Thanks to all the people who took action, and the MPs who supported this campaign, this vital treatment is now an option for the people who need it.”
Katie Begg, Assistant Director of Engagement at Anthony Nolan, said: “We’re very grateful to David Burrowes MP for his support for our Defend Second Transplants campaign. Thanks to him, his colleagues in Parliament, and the thousands of people who took action, patients in need of a second transplant can get the treatment they need.”
The event was also attended by Sasha Jones, who was denied a second transplant by NHS England in August 2016, and her friend Amy Collins. Amy created a petition on Sasha’s behalf that garnered over 168,000 signatures in support of second transplants.