A BLACKBURN business boss whose six-year-old has a rare genetic disease is urging people to sign up to a stem cell register after a donor saved his son’s life.

Sam Fletcher, director of marketing agency Twentyone, based in Eanam Wharf, went through the ‘most traumatic period’ of his life when his son, Charlie, fell ill with Fanconi Anemia.

The disorder, which affects one in 350,000 people, meant Charlie was unable to produce blood cells, leaving him fighting for his life last year.

Charlie then spent 12 months in and out of Manchester Children’s Hospital, going through radiotherapy, chemotherapy and one unsuccessful bone marrow transplant.

Eventually, only-child Charlie received a successful transplant of stem cells from a donor umbilical cord, and was able to return to school in February.

Mr Fletcher, 32, of King Street, Whalley, said: “It was the most traumatic year of my life.

“The chemotherapy and radiotherapy changed him beyond all recognition, making him swollen and his hair fall out. It was just terrible.But he never moaned about being stuck in bed for six months. I’m so proud of him.

“I always had hope, and luckily everything worked out well. Now he’s fit and well and doing everything all six-year-olds do.

“I’m so thankful to the NHS because the level of care we got was outstanding. It was amazing and we are so grateful for all the help he got.”

Mr Fletcher has since selected Anthony Nolan, a charity that matches donated stem cells to people who need transplants, as his company’s chosen charity.

The team have so far raised £565 of their £1,000 target, which will go towards research into making bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants more successful, and support and information for blood cancers and disorders.

To give to Mr Fletcher’s cause, visit www.justgiving.com/Sam-Fletcher2.

To find out about becoming a donor, visit www.anthony nolan.org.