THOUSANDS of people have signed up to become stem cell donors following a mass registration drive in Fintona.

The drive proved to be an overwhelming show of support for mum-of-two and primary school teacher Tracy McKenna (35), from Fintona, who has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and needs a stem cell transplant to survive.

The drive was held at Denamona Primary School, where Mrs. McKenna teaches, with people queueing around the block to join the stem cell register held by blood cancer charity DKMS as potential donors for Tracy and others with blood cancer.

“It has been a very emotional weekend, and I am completely blown away and overwhelmed by the support and response from my community," said Mrs. McKenna.

"Today proved how fortunate I am to live in such a kind, caring and generous community.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart to DKMS, Janet Burke [the principal of Denamona Primary School], my husband Mark, family, friends, the amazing volunteers, and all the kind people who came to register and show support.”

Close to an incredible figure of 1,500 people were registered at the events, by completing quick and easy ‘mouth swabs’, with DKMS flying in extra supplies of mouth swab kits to meet the demand.

One such person who registered, Peter, said: “I’ve been truly touched by Tracy’s story and came along to register and hope our efforts today will help Tracy and others like her.”

Leanne, another person who signed up, said: “It‘s great to see so many other people come out for the event. I hope this leads to Tracy finding a match, and other people in her situation.”

As a result of the event, DKMS also received a further 1,336 online requests for kits, and more than £10,000 was raised.

DKMS spokesperson Sophia Oriolowo, who was at both events, said: “It was so moving to witness people who’d travelled for more than an hour just to register in person for Tracy.

"The sight of people patiently lining up in long queues was simply remarkable. What a tribute to the power of tight-knit and supportive community in Northern Ireland. Thank you, Fintona!

"Registering as a stem cell donor means you’re joining a chain of hope for people with blood cancer, like Tracy, who need a stem cell transplant,” she added.