The family of a two-year-old boy from Saffron Walden whose life was saved by a stem cell transplant is urging more people to become donors.

Oti Hughes was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in July last year, after a week of experiencing joint pain in his right arm.

He underwent four rounds of chemotherapy at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, and was in remission for Christmas.

However in February his cancer returned and he underwent a stem cell transplant.

Oti's parents Jo and Terry Hughes, who also have a three-year-old son called Remy, are now encouraging more people to join the stem cell register.

Saffron Walden Reporter: The Hughes family is inviting people to join the stem cell registerThe Hughes family is inviting people to join the stem cell register (Image: The Hughes family)

Jo said: "We had to go to Bristol for the transplant as Addenbrooke's don’t do them for kids (they’re setting up this facility now so they will be able to from next year!) so we have lived apart - each of us have swapped every five days for the past 13 months so we can balance both of our brilliant boys. 

"Oti found a match on the register straight away which doesn’t always happen - approximately 70per cent of Caucasians have a reasonable match and it's far lower for BAME community, and his donor was in America."

The family is currently staying near Bristol Hospital while Oti recovers, and wants to rally people in Saffron Walden to sign up to the global stem cell register.

"We weren’t on the register before Oti became poorly – I have to say that it just hadn’t crossed my mind to do it," Jo said. 

"That’s why we want to make doing a great thing really easy."


Currently just three per cent of the UK population are on the register. Once you are signed up there is a one in 800 chance of being called up to donate stem cells. 

The Hughes family's mission is to get 800 people to sign up in one day, so that statistically they can save a life.

To sign up, people in Saffron Walden aged between 17 and 55 are invited to visit Chater's restaurant on Church Street between 9am and 2pm on Sunday, September 17.

As well as enjoying a coffee and a taco from the food truck, visitors can have their cheek swabbed to join the register.

Jo said: "All it takes is five minutes for you to turn up and swab for your DNA and fill out an online form, and we will guide you through. 

"Due to one person signing up in America 12 years ago, we get to keep our son.

"We know what it would mean to be able to create this chance for another family but we rely on the unsurprising kindness of others to make it happen."

Speaking about Oti's progress, Jo said: "When we hit the year post transplant milestone and his blood is still all being made by the donor cells then we can start to breathe again!"

For more information about the donor day, follow @hughesmotivationarmy on Instagram or Facebook.