Tom Holland – the new Spider-Man star – has revealed how his newfound superhero powers have led to him backing a stem cell donor register.
The 19-year-old actor, who will take over from Andrew Garfield to portray the web-slinging superhero in the Marvel movies, is amongst the celebrities to support the Anthony Nolan charity’s #IGiveASpit campaign, which aims to encourage more young people between the ages of 16 and 30 to sign up.
“Like most other teenagers, I grew up watching superhero movies and wishing I had secret powers. Then I found out that we all do have something superhuman inside us that could save a life: our stem cells,” he said.
“It sounds weird but anyone can rescue a stranger in their hour of need, and you don’t need to jump off a building – you just need to spit and, if you’re lucky, donate some cells from your blood.”
Tom continued: “I joined the Anthony Nolan stem cell register as soon as I turned 16, by spitting into a tube. I even captured the slightly undignified moment on YouTube in a bid to get other young people to do the same.
“So far I’ve never had that call to say I’m a match for someone, but if I did, I’d consider it to be the greatest privilege of my life.”
Other stars who are backing the campaign by posing in Ashish-designed #IGiveASpit T-shirts include Game Of Thrones actress Rose Leslie, Blue singers Lee Ryan and Antony Costa, EastEnders actress Kellie Shirley, The Only Way Is Essex’s Bobby Norris and Made In Chelsea’s Stevie Johnson.
Rose, who plays wildling Ygritte in the fantasy series, said a friend’s personal experience persuaded her to join the register.
“One of my closest childhood friends, Millie, was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was 19. At the time, Millie campaigned to get more people onto the Anthony Nolan register and I remember feeling so humbled by her bravery and selflessness,” she said.
“She had a stem cell transplant using the best possible match on the register at the time, but it wasn’t the ‘perfect’ match and she sadly relapsed and died a few months later.”
The Scottish star, 28, added: “If there were more young people on the Anthony Nolan register ten years ago, my friend might have found a closer match and might still be here today. So, even if just one person signs up because of the #IGiveASpit campaign, they could be the difference between life and death for someone like Millie.”
Blue singers Antony and Lee were inspired to sign up after a fan asked for help.
Lee said: “This cause became close to our hearts as a Blue fan called Malcolm needed to find a stem cell donor to save his life. We’d met him backstage at a Blue concert a couple of years ago and he is an absolutely top bloke.
“Amazingly, the Anthony Nolan charity has now found Malcolm a donor and we couldn’t be happier for him.”