Euro 2020: Man missed England win to donate stem cells

image copyrightSam Astley

image captionSam Astley said the appointment to have his bone marrow harvested had been made six weeks before the Wembley semi-final

A man who won tickets to see England’s Euro 2020 semi-final win over Denmark gave them up because he was due to donate stem cells the next morning.

Sam Astley, from Sedgley in the West Midlands, said he would have loved to have been at Wembley, but “there was no way I was going to delay this”.

He has been praised by the Anthony Nolan Trust and Gary Lineker, who said it was “amazing”.

Lineker added to calls on Twitter to get him tickets for the final instead.

“My girlfriend won a competition on Monday for tickets to the game, but obviously with me doing this donation today, there was no chance I was going to delay this,” Mr Astley said.

The appointment to donate the stem cells had been made six weeks previously after he signed up to be on Anthony Nolan Trust’s register at a football tournament organised by his partner’s friend Simon Wilkes.

He said: “Simon suffers from a form of blood cancer himself so [he] invites Anthony Nolan to the charity events and encourages as many people as possible to sign up to the register.”

image copyrightSam Astley

image captionSam’s partner Beth Hill won tickets for the Wembley semi-final

Mr Astley’s partner Beth Hill, who has been working as a critical care nurse with coronavirus patients for the past 18 months, could not go either after a colleague tested positive, forcing her to isolate.

He said instead of being part of the raucous Wembley atmosphere, he watched it from a hospital bed.

The procedure he underwent on Thursday involves the removal of bone marrow containing stem cells from his hip bones. He is now recovering in hospital.

In a tweet, Mr Astley, 24, also thanked Gary Lineker for his support and for “all the wonderful messages”.

“Sam has shown us all what a true hero he really is, by putting his own once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see England play at Wembley aside, to give someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder their best chance at survival and we simply cannot thank him enough,” Anthony Nolan’s chief executive Henny Braund said.

“We really hope he is able to get tickets to the final.”

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