A young England supporter won praise Thursday after he gave up tickets to watch the Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark to donate life-saving stem cells.
Sam Astley, 24, from Sedgley in the West Midlands, was set to attend the game at Wembley on Wednesday evening after his girlfriend won tickets in a competition.
But he gave up the chance and watched the match from a hospital bed after he volunteered to donate stem cells and bone marrow to help a blood cancer sufferer through UK charity Anthony Nolan and was informed he matched with a patient.
He and his girlfriend gave their tickets to relatives.
Astley’s story was initially reported by the Stourbridge News, a local newspaper, but was then picked up more widely including on social media such as the Twitter account of former England star player Gary Lineker, now a BBC football commentator with eight million followers.
“Amazing. Can you help @FA @England ?” Lineker tweeted.
Later Thursday, an official sponsor of Euro 2020, smartphone company Vivo Europe, tweeted that it wanted to help Astley attend the final.
“We saw this and would like to help Sam go to the final on Sunday,” the company tweeted.
“Sam deserves to be at the game and we want to make it happen!”
A Vivo spokesman told the Stourbridge News that it had arranged for Astley and his girlfriend to attend the final as guests, to thank him for “his selfless lifesaving donation”.
The chief executive of Anthony Nolan, Henny Braund, tweeted that Astley was a “hero”.
The BBC reported that Astley underwent a procedure to remove bone marrow containing stem cells from his hip bones.
Astley tweeted a picture of him in a hospital bed on Thursday, thanking Lineker and others for “all the wonderful messages” and saying the procedure went well and he is now recovering.
Anthony Nolan finds stem cell donors whose tissue is a close genetic match to blood cancer patients, so that it can be used as a transplant, giving them the best chance of survival.