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Business News


Past president’s appeal as he prepares for biggest battle


By Jon Griffin


Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and in revolutionary Iran – but now he’s facing the biggest battle of all. The 72-year-old business leader,


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whose extraordinary 50-year plus CV includes brushes with Saddam’s murderous family and a spell in Iran as the Shah’s regime was nearing downfall, is grappling with a more difficult adversary than mere Middle East dictators – in the shape of life-threatening leukaemia. The former Birmingham Chamber of Commerce president, a highly visible presence on the West Midland business circuit for decades, has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia, with just 30 months to live in the worst possible scenario. Typically, Steve is facing his


personal ordeal head-on, as so often in a business career which saw him working for Iraqi business interests at the height of the Saddam Hussein terror and talking his way out of Iran as the Shah faced oblivion. With daughter Emily a


formidable ally in the campaign to raise public awareness of the crucial need for bone marrow donors, Steve is determined to beat the cancer – and wants to urge others to help save lives. A fitness fanatic who has run


marathons and plays badminton several times a week, the septuagenarian realised something was wrong when he had to pull out of a 3,000 kilometre run in Stratford-upon-Avon. By May last year Steve was given


the brutal truth by specialists at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital – tests on his spine, or the body’s ‘blood factory’ in medical parlance, saw him diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes, aka abnormal cells in the bone marrow. Extraordinarily, Steve kept his


nightmare secret from wife Cindy and grown-up children Mark and Emily for months – and only revealed his condition when he needed Cindy to drive him to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for tests. But vital, possibly life-saving,


help is on the horizon. Three potential matches have been identified in the shape of two German males and a Pole – and a life-saving transplant could be on the horizon within weeks.


8 CHAMBERLINK March 2019 Steve Brittan


‘Everybody assumes that donating bone marrow is really painful and you are going to have half your limbs taken away, but it is just going on a register for a mouth swab’


“I am very optimistic. I am not


looking forward to the transplant but I would like it to be as soon as possible. They have found three potential matches which is great news,” says Steve. “There are three chances there,


and you only need one. It (the transplant) should take place in six to eight weeks from the point of the donor being verified. I am likely to be hospitalised for three or four weeks.” Against Steve’s personal


background, the facts and figures concerning stem cell and bone marrow donation tell their own story. Over 2,000 people in the UK are in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant every year and 75 per cent of UK patients won’t find a matching donor in their families. Only two per cent of people in the UK are


registered as stem cell donors, with young males aged 16 to 30 the ideal supply pool. Steve’s daughter Emily said:


“Everybody assumes that donating bone marrow is really painful and you are going to have half your limbs taken away, but it is just going on a register for a mouth swab. “Taking away the bone marrow is


done under general anaesthetic and the feeling is as if you have been kicked in the shin. It’s seconds of pain, and you can save somebody’s life.” As he waits for a suitable donor,


Steve is doing what he has always done – keeping himself busy. He is still working two days a week with BSA Tools at Kitts Green, has numerous roles with the Chamber, is an ambassador with Birmingham Airport and South and City College,


Birmingham – as well as helping run Henley Ice Cream. “I am never going to retire. I


cannot imagine walking around a supermarket in the morning pushing a trolley with my wife. I am determined to beat leukaemia.” Steve is being treated at the


Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s Centre for Clinically Haematology, which underwent a major expansion with the help of a £1m fundraising drive from Birmingham charity Cure Leukaemia. Cure Leukaemia’s chief executive


James McLaughlin said: “On behalf of everyone associated with Cure Leukaemia I would like to send Steve our very best wishes and support during this difficult time. “The care and treatment he will


be receiving here in Birmingham in the Centre for Clinical Haematology will be as good as any available in the world and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.”


See www.anthonynolan.org for more information.


rominent West Midland industrialist Steve Brittan has battled for business in


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