Counterpoint: Bone Marrow Campaign

Counterpoint: Bone Marrow Campaign

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Transmission 23/10/1987


27min 17sec




1 inch



Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Brian Black reports on the bone marrow campaign, featuring interviews with families affected by the lack of a donor registry in Northern Ireland. 

With opening scenes of children receiving treatment, the urgency and need driving the campaign is illustrated. Black introduces Malcolm Thomas, whose child passed away in March this year, due to the prolonged timescale required in finding a suitable donor. We meet another parent, Caroline Sacramento, who speaks about her two children, both of whom have Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. Currently, the only way doctors can help the Sacramento children, is to treat symptoms and infections that arise due to the syndrome, with their only lifeline being an unrelated donor.  

Malcolm explains the costs that come with current testing for donors in England, and that he was lucky that his local council had the money to do it for his daughter. However, she died during the wait for a donor and, so, the "only sense" Malcolm can make of her death, is to make it his purpose to create a free register, so anyone in need can utilise it. 

There have been some lucky people in Northern Ireland who have benefitted from a bone marrow transplant, such as Eileen O'Hare who found an exact match in family member, Winnie Lavery. Winnie describes the donor experience as an "honour" and would do it again for anybody. Similarly, John Mulholland, a blood and plasma donor, would also be more than happy to donate bone marrow.


Bone marrow is a semi-solid tissue which may be found within the spongy or cancellous portions of bones. Blood stem cells produce all your essential blood cells, such as red blood cells to carry oxygen and white blood cells to fight infection.

Shot List

Brian Black [BB] introduces the programme. Scenes of children and babies receiving treatment. Opening theme. BB introduces Malcolm Thomas [MT]. Scenes of treating a baby and MT playing with a child who need bone marrow donations. BB interviews Caroline Sarcramento [CS] about her children’s illnesses and treatments. Dr. Tom Morris [TM] (Consultant) explaining the disease known as the Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome. Describing the symptoms and the treatments. MT explains the need for bone marrow donors, and the cost for testing. BB donates blood and speaks with John Mulholland about giving blood donations and plasma. Dr. Morris McClelland (Blood Transfusion Service) comments on bone marrow donors and registers. Interview with Eileen O’Hare about receiving a bone marrow transplant for her leukaemia. Winnie Lavery comments on being a bone marrow donor. Dr Frank Jones (Consultant) explains the process of removing the bone marrow. CS talks about unrelated bone marrow donors. Footage from HTV about an interview with Catherine Naylor and Sara Davies about an unrelated bone marrow donor. MT speaks about the register for donors. Footage from TV-am Autumn 1986 interview with MT and his daughter Alex about her treatments. Dr. Derek Middleton talks about funding for the register campaign. MT speaks about the benefits of the campaign in Belfast. TM explains the numbers of patients benefiting from new donors. BB speaks with CS about maintaining composure. MT explains the importance of a register in both England and Northern Ireland. Credits and MT playing with a child.


A UTV Production.

Third party material contributed from HTV and TV-am. 

Production: Jamie Delargy

Director: Alan Hailes

Editor: Hugh Owens

Also Featured: Dr. Tom Morris, Dr. Frank Jones and Dr. Derek Middleton.



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