A BONE marrow donor is running the London Marathon side-by-side with the stranger whose life he saved.

In 2008, Elliott Brock donated cells to a then unknown eight-year-old girl, Vicky Lawrence, who was battling aggressive bone cancer.

This April, the pair will run the marathon together to raise money for Anthony Nolan, the blood cancer charity which brought their lives together.

Halstead physio Elliott was 29 when he made the life-saving decision to donate his bone marrow.

He said: “I had been on the donation register for about ten years and, like all these things, sometimes you forget what you have signed up for.

“One day, my phone kept ringing. Everyone from the doctors and the blood service was trying to get hold of me because I had been found to be a strong match for someone.

“They did some more tests and asked if I was happy to proceed.

“I kept thinking if the boot was on the other foot, I would want someone to do it for me.”

Elliott, who works at the Halstead Physiotherapy Clinic, on Market Hill, underwent the donation procedure which is similar to kidney dialysis.

He was told his cells would go to a young cancer patient, but knew no more than that.

Elliott, now 40, said: “You have to have four injections in the stomach in the run-up to make you produce more bone marrow. That was the worst of it for me.

“Six months later I received a letter from Vicky’s parents saying what a difference it had made.

“Her hair had grown back and she was back at school and doing sports again.

“They asked if I wanted to meet them, but at the time I thought it was nice to know it had worked, but I didn’t need to know more.”

Halstead Gazette: Vicky Lawrence during her battle with cancer.Vicky Lawrence during her battle with cancer.

But five years later, Elliott had changed his mind and decided to contact the family.

They hit it off and he has met up with Vicky a handful of times since.

Elliott said: “When the first letter came through, it put it into perspective the extent of how what I had done had affected Vicky and her family.

“Without the donation, she would have died. It wasn’t until then I really realised what I had done.

“It really is the easiest way to be called a hero. I just laid there for four hours letting the doctors work – I didn’t run into a burning building.”

Now 20, Vicky is studying medicine at Newcastle University.

“It is nice to see the path she is taking in life,” said Elliott.

“Hopefully from my small act, Vicky will go on to save more people’s lives in the future.

“The older I get and the more I see her blossom, it makes me think more about what could have happened if a match could not have been found.

“She has met my sons, Reuben, four, and Fraiser, one, and I have met her mum and dad. My kids took to her straight away.”

Far from an experienced runner, Elliott will be running with Vicky alongside to motivate him along the 26.2-mile route after she convinced him to sign up.

“I am a physio, so I treat a lot of runners,” he said.

“But I have always said I only run if I have a ball in front of me

“I was thinking we should wear superhero costumes, but I need to persuade Vicky about that. I am a bit like an uncool dad and she is the hip university student.”

The duo hope to raise as much money as possible for Anthony Nolan, but Elliott also wants to raise awareness of bone marrow donation and how easy it can be to save a life.

He said: “The more people who are on the register the more chances there are of saving people’s lives, like I did with Vicky.

“You do not have to give a blood sample anymore to become a donor. You sign up online and they send you a swab to do at home.

I said at the time I would do it again in a heartbeat and I would. I feel privileged I could help.”

To donate, visit bit.ly/31uqe2Q.