MATCH of The Day pundit Danny Murphy helped raise awareness of blood cancer at a charity ball held to celebrate the life of Leeds woman after her tragic death aged 41.
The Ex-Liverpool England footballer said he was "humbled" to attend Mel's Blue Moon Charity Ball to celebrate the life of Melaine Farrell-Rhodes from Morley and raise awareness of and funds for blood cancer charity DKMS.
And Danny's fellow talkSPORT radio show presenter Bob Mills also attended the ball at The View at Six Acres in Drighlington, which raised £6,000 for DKMS.
Danny's partner Michaella Farrell-Anderson, 44, of Birkenshaw, said her sister Mel was passionate about the importance of people registering to become stem cell donors.
Mel was diagnosed with blood cancer at the age of eight and her condition was managed until the cancer became more aggressive when she was 41.
It was then that Mel was advised that her only chance of survival was a blood stem cell transplant.
Owing to Mel’s African-Caribbean and British mixed race heritage, her search was more difficult.
Patients from black, Asian or other minority backgrounds have just a 20 per cent chance of finding the best possible matching stem cell donor, compared with 69 per cent for white northern Europeans.
After an extensive search and campaigning by Mel, a matching donor was found and early last year she received a blood stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.
Tragically, Mel experienced complications and died in March 2018.
Danny Murphy, who is on the stem cell register, said: “I was humbled to be a guest at Mel’s Ball but it was really difficult to comprehend that such a beautiful, loving woman could be taken away from her family far too soon.
"I hope I can encourage as many people as possible to take the relatively straightforward first steps to helping other people with blood cancer.
"Anyone aged between 17 to 55 and in general good health can become a potential lifesaver - all they need to do is register online with DKMS.”
Michaella said: "Danny was happy to get involved to support me and my family and Mel.
"She was my little sister. Although she was unwell she was courageous and strong and supported all of us and we miss her dearly.
"Mel campaigned for people to sign the stem cell register and become potential lifesavers.
"She was super strong, fesity and tenacious. She was always positive.
"There was no question she wasn't going to have to have the stem cell and fight to survive.
"She was passionate about raising awareness of the importance of registering as a stem cell donor.
“We’re happy that Danny and Bob were able to join us in celebrating Mel’s life and would like to say a big thank you to everyone else who has supported us."
Michaella said donating stem cells can be as simple as just giving blood and can be pain free.
Michaella and her and Mel's mum Fran Farrell-Anderson , 62, of Morley, organised the ball.
Fran, said: “We set out to celebrate Mel’s life and continue her legacy.
“We intend to help the charity to register more donors in West Yorkshire. Following the tremendous success, Michaella and I made a promise to each other that we’d make the ball an annual event..”
DKMS has a growing register of over 500,000 donors but desperately need more if a match is to be found for everyone who needs one.
Only one in three people with a blood cancer and who need a transplant will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family.
Funds raised at Mel’s Blue Moon Ball will help to register new potential blood stem cell donors.
If you are aged between 17 to 55 and in general good health, you can register for your home swab kit online at dkms.org.uk
You can help support the fight against blood cancer by making your mark this World Blood Cancer Day on May 28 and support the charity’s #WearItRed campaign.
For more details, go to: www.dkms.org.uk/wbcd