A RUNNER has signed up for the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run to mark 20 years since he received a livesaving bone marrow transplant at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Michael Joyce has pledged to take on the 10K distance in the city centre on Sunday, 20 May, as a way of saying thank you to the hospital which saved his life.

Now 27, Michael, from Blackley, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at the age of three, a cancer that affects the white blood cells.

He underwent chemotherapy treatment at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s former site in Pendlebury and after 12 months his parents were delighted when they were told that he was in remission. Sadly, just three years later when Michael was six-years-old, he was given the devastating news that he had relapsed and the cancer returned.

Michael was once again admitted to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and underwent intensive courses of chemotherapy and radiation treatment but was told he would need to undergo a bone marrow transplant to help him fight the disease.

None of Michael’s immediate family were a match for the transplant, so as a last resort, Michael underwent an autologous transplant when he was eight. This meant that stem cells were removed from Michael’s bone marrow, then following high-dose chemotherapy or radiation treatments, the stem cells were put back into Michael’s body to make normal blood cells.

Michael said: “I’ll forever be grateful to the incredible staff at the Children’s Hospital for everything they did for me. The hospital saved my life, so with the anniversary of my bone marrow transplant approaching next month I wanted to do something to show my gratitude.

“Nothing I do will ever be able to repay them for giving me a second chance at life, but I wanted to take part in the run to say thank you. I’m not a very sporty person, so running 10k will be a big challenge for me. I’ve already started training as I want to do the best I can on the day.”

Michael, a mental health support worker, still has yearly check-ups and has regular testosterone injections every ten weeks as his hormone levels were affected by the radiation treatment he received.

Jess Ruth, Events Manager at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity said: “We’re thrilled that Michael has signed up to take on this year’s Great Manchester Run in support of our Children’s Hospital. It’s a great way to mark his anniversary, with all money raised going towards the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the hospital.

“We want to get as many runners as possible on the day so hope Michael’s inspirational story will inspire others to run this year in support of our hospital.”

To sponsor Michael in his fundraising challenge visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michael-joyce4

To join Michael and take on the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run visit greatrun.org/Manchester