The internet is a very useful and powerful tool in today’s world – and it’s a lifesaver, too!
Proof of that is found in the story of Mike Brandon, the 32-year-old guy from Bristol, United Kingdom whose life was saved by the internet not just once but twice in two years! It could be said that he’s one of the luckiest unlucky guys in the world – and he owes his life to the internet.
Back in 2014, just a month after proposing to girlfriend Kate, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The doctors gave his family a 60-day deadline to find a bone marrow donor or he would surely die.
Knowing the deadline was tight, Kate took to social media to start a campaign which would soon go viral. Similar to the ice bucket challenge, Kate’s #Shake4Mike asked people to do “shaky-face selfies” after registering as bone marrow transplant donor at the registry and donor-patient matching organization called Anthony Nolan; then, they have to nominate others to do the same.
The campaign got so popular that the number of bone marrow registrants on Anthony Nolan increased by 650% that year! Instead of 900+ registrants they had in the previous year, there were over 7,000 potential donors in 2014 due to the #Shake4Mike campaign.
Kate was able to beat the doctors’ deadline of two months – because they found a match in less than a month, thanks to the viral challenge campaign! Mike would receive the life-saving transplant on June 26, 2014 which happened to be his birthday.
The following year, the couple got married but the cancer came back a few months later.
Mike mused, “Without Kate, many times over I would not be here. I wouldn’t. I was ready to call it a day when the consultant told me that it had relapsed and it had relapsed hard. But Kate just went ‘no, no, there’s options and we’re going to find them and we’re going to do it’, and so she was at it again.”
Kate scoured the internet for help and found a revolutionary new treatment at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center in the US. It promised to be a “revolutionary new treatment that has shown extraordinary rates of success” and they were conducting trials.
Kate quickly signed Mike for the trial but while he was accepted, they needed at least £400,000 ($490,000) to go to the US and avail of the treatment. So, she once again turned to the internet for help – and receive awesome response! Within weeks, they were able to surpass the goal and raised over £450,000 ($570,000).
By May 2016, they flew to the US where Mike began trial. Thankfully, in October 2016, Facebook page Donate4Mike posted good news: Mike’s biopsy finally came back clear!
Now that Mike is well, the couple donated the rest of the donations they received to the Bristol Royal Infirmary Haematology Oncology Unit. They had also started the Donate4TCells to help support families needing T-cell therapy in the UK.