Interviews: Brian May: BBC Radio 1 '94
Conducted by Nicky Cambell.
NC : As I was saying earlier on, Essex toddler Rhys Daniels is facing another life-saving search for a bone marrow donor - a transplant last year hasnt worked, and now the hunt is on for a suitable donor. Now one of those who has had tests today to see if he is compatible is guitarist, ex-Queen of course, Brian May. As patron of the British bone marror donor appeal he knows that a successful match can mean the gift of life for a child. Brian joins me on the phone now after a few problems earlier on but nothing we didnt sum out. Brian - how did you get involved in the appeal ?
BM : How you doing Nicky? It was a while ago - I've been involved ever since the used my song, "Who Wants To Live Forever" about six years ago, and I got very passionate about the whole thing. We've done various kind of fun raising acitivies, fund raising - sorry, and general sort of awareness increasing things, but this is a particular case - as you say it is life or death and the poor little guy need something very quickly. So our ,message at the moment is please call up and come and be on the register - its not that hard to do, so thats why I went along today - you know I had my own blood sampled and they are going to do the tests on it, and they do this thing called "tissue typing".
NC : Any word on the results yet ?
BM : No, I dont know yet, but I'll know pretty soon. I think it takes them about a week to do all the tests. Its hard to explain this to you, because you know if you're trying to match up blood its not that difficult, as you probably know - just for a blood transfussion.
You've got a one in twenty chance or something of getting a match. But for this bone marrow business there's something like a one in 40,000 chance of getting the perfect match you need, so obviously we need something in excess of 40,000 people on the resister before we have a good chance of finding a match for every kid.
NC : Yeah, and this is an on going problem. Its very gene specific isn't it and like as far as I understand it for example a Greek Cypriat would be looking for a Greek Cypriat bone marrow and something like that ?
BM : Thats right, yes it goes in families so the first place you look is amougnst the relatives, but thats failed in this case so we have to go out and hope we can find someone. So somebody listening to your program at this moment may be the donor we need, so all we're saying is please ring up the British bone marror donor association.
NC : Do you have the number handy ?
BM : Well, I have the address here, its 18 Warwich Street, Rugby, and I think thats what we would like you to do. Drop a card, or a letter or anything and we'll give you the details of what to do. Its 18 Warwich Street, Rugby.
NC : Now Brian, you say he needs it very quickly little Rhys - how urgent is that?
BM : Its a matter of, well I think they're saying weeks. Certainly not more than a few months. We've been through this a few times of course. I say 'we' because, you know - thank God - my kids are healthy but we've campaigned with quite a few children and in some cases - like little Ben - we've found a match and he's fine and its wonderful. Some cases we've found - like tragic Catherine, who did so much work a couple of years ago, and we did a record with her and everything.
NC : Now its laudable what you are doing and I dont want to smuuze you too much but a lot of rock stars of course are very self obsessed and dissapear up their own backsides but you are actually doing a lot here. Did your sense of humanity get a sort of jolt as a close friend of yours, Freddie died, and you saw him die ?
BM : Oh, I cant tell you how much really , yes of course. Its a major sort of life-changing thing and I dont think any of us will get over it for quite a long time. I guess I'd known Freddie all my adult life and its huge thing to get over.
NC : Well a lot of children as you say are in need of transplants, not just little Rhys, you've given us the address and you've told us what we can do, and all I can say to is thanks for being vocal about this and thanks for coming out. Cause its a hell of a problem and there are a hell of a lot of people in difficulties here.
BM : Thats right. Its so very frustrating - there are a lot of diseases which cant be cured and so you know you go round asking for money and we all get invovled in that. But this set of diseases can be cured - quite definitley and its so frustrating to see children losing the battle just because there aren't enough people on that register.
NC : Yeah, and of course - ' there but for the grace of God go we'
BM : Absolutely, any time as well. So I'll give you the address once more if you can bear it.
NC : Go for it.
BM : Its 18 Warwich Street, Rugby. The British Bone Marrow Donor Appeal.
NC : Thats the sort of plugging I can tolerate, that you know Brian.
BM : Yeah, well I'm very unashamed about plugging this I'm afraid.
NC : No problems at all! Its not the same of plugging your book or anything like that.
BM : No, no I dont care about that much really.
NC : All the best to you.
BM : Thanks very much - all the best Nicky.
NC : My pleasure.