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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

County Antrim family makes appeal for donors after 6 year old son diagnosed with rare condition

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Six year old Olcàn Wilkes

A County Antrim family have shared their story after 6 year old Olcàn Wilkes was diagnosed with a rare condition that has required continual blood transfusions and leaving the young boy ultimately needing a bone marrow transplant.

Genevieve and Sam Wilkes moved their family from England to the Randalstown area at the end of July this year, and it was only a few weeks later that Olcàn started developing what was described as ‘severe and unusual’ bruising on his body.

The family had only registered a few days before at the Randalstown Health Centre, and Genevieve has praised the staff as ‘amazing’ when she attended her GP’s surgery with her son and blood tests were completed straightaway.

Mum Genevieve recalls the terrifying events of that day:

“That same day we were rushed to ‘The Royal Belfast Hospital For Sick Children’ and admitted to the Hematology and Oncology ward with Olcàn needing an urgent blood transfusion.

“For any parent to get that phone call; someone telling you to pack a bag - it was terrifying.”

Medical professionals diagnosed Olcàn in September 2021 with Aplastic Anaemia - a rare condition in which the bone marrow does not produce adequate number of new blood cells, causing tiredness, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, unexplained bruising, nose bleeds, headache and fever.

Over the last few months Olcàn has been in theatre three times and has had to have weekly blood transfusions as his levels where critically low.

“He has had 25 transfusions in eight weeks,” commented Genevieve. “I hope by sharing our story, it raises awareness about the need for blood and platelet donors. I had always assumed it was for people who had been in an accident or been through surgery, and needed blood due to blood loss.”

The last few months have been very stressful and challenging for the family as Genevieve spends most time at the hospital with Olcàn, and her other 4 year old son continues to settle into a new primary school in a new country. Dad Sam currently has had to remain in England with his job to provide the family income.

Genevieve continued: “Our son is currently receiving treatment that is so harsh on his little body, but critical even though it isn’t a cure. However because his condition is at the severe end of the spectrum, there is a low chance of it helping.

“The only cure is a bone marrow transplant, we have received the devastating news that Olcàn has a rare tissue type and there currently isn’t a match on the global database.

“It is so important that he gets a donor and I am asking that you could register if possible to become a donor. Please share this post to help us raise awareness and ultimately to find a suitable donor to help Olcàn.”

You can follow Olcàns story on Instagram:


For more information and to register to become a donor, please visit:


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