A selfless football fan has been hailed a hero after he turned down England v Denmark tickets to instead save a life by donating stem cells and bone marrow.
Sam Astley’s selfless act after he found out he was a match for his donor has led to a wave of support on social media and he has now been given tickets for the final.
The 24-year-old had been overjoyed when his girlfriend Beth Hill, 25, won tickets in a competition for the historic Euros semi-final at Wembley.
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But he turned down the opportunity to go and watch the national team play after discovering he was a donor match.
He had signed up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register and to his shock and disbelief discovered the procedure in London was the same day as the match.
But Astley from the West Midlands said he has no regrets at turning down the chance to watch Gareth Southgate’s men reach the Euro 2020 final after beating Denmark 2-1 on Wednesday.
He said: “Life is more important than a football game at the end of the day.
“No football game beats saving someone’s life.”
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As well as donating stem cells, Sam, a buyer for a manufacturing technology firm, is expecting to donate a litre of bone marrow.
He added: “Somebody’s waiting for the donation but we’re not sure which part of the world they’re from.”
He admitted to being “a bit nervous” about the procedure which is likely to leave him in some discomfort and tired for up to a month.
Hill who works as a critical care nurse at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, also had to miss out on the prize as she is self-isolating.
The couple decided to gift the prize, which included an overnight stay at The Dorchester and £500 spending money, to relatives instead.
Astley signed up to the register after a memorial football match organised in memory of Olly Wilkes, who took his own life aged 22.
Olly’s father Simon Wilkes suffers from a blood disorder and has been trying to raise awareness of the condition and help get more people to donate stem cells.
Wilkes said he was overcome with emotion at the gesture by Sam who has never seen England play or been to Wembley Stadium.
He said: “It’s a once in a lifetime thing to win that.
“It’s wonderful what he’s going to do. He was already sacrificing work time and now he’s sacrificing the chance of a lifetime.”
Rebecca Pritchard, director of register development at the Anthony Nolan charity, said Astley was a “hero”
She said: “Our donors are incredible people at the best of times, bearing in mind they agree to help a complete stranger in this way.
“But these are extraordinary times. Sam has done an extraordinary and incredibly selfless thing by putting the needs of his recipient, above his own pleasure.
The charity is particularly looking to encourage more men aged 16 to 30 to join the Anthony Nolan register as they are the most likely to be chosen to donate.
Anyone interested in signing up or finding out more can go online here.