IT’S the final push.

With just £250,000 to go before the Red and White Appeal smashes its £1.7m target, the dream of a new state-of-the-art treatment centre for blood cancer patients in Southampton is within touching distance.

But before that dream can become a reality and boost vital treatments for those fighting cancer when they are at their most vulnerable, the outstanding money must be raised.

It is by no means a small sum but if every person in Southampton donated just £1, building work could be well under way by the new year.

So the Daily Echo has joined forces with the Red and White Appeal to launch the Final Push campaign, urging people across the city to pull together that loose change hanging around at home, in the car or in the office and donate £1 this month.

At the moment patients have to go to another area of Southampton General Hospital and share facilities with patients suffering from solid tumour cancers. But as the number of patients needing treatment has soared the clinics have become very overcrowded, causing more stress and more importantly putting blood cancer patients, who have low immune systems, at risk of more infections that could seriously compromise their recovery.

One patient who knows only too well how vital the new unit will be is Alex Banks, who was diagnosed with multiple myloma in 2007, after suffering paralysis in his legs, aged just 19.

Alex underwent intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy before having a pioneering immune system transplant, which meant three months in isolation while he recovered.

Since then he has endured countless outpatient appointments but is currently in remission for the incurable disease. Alex, now 25, said: “Attending outpatient appointments is one of the hardest things to be honest.

“When you are feeling rough and forced to sit around for a couple of hours to be seen it is really tough.

“And then to top all that, patients like myself are prone to infection because we have weak immune systems, so to be sat around with other patients who may have a cold can be a massive risk.

“To have a comfortable place to wait and to know you won’t have to wait all day, will make a huge difference to patients.”

The new dedicated day case unit for haematology patients at the hospital will be built next to the inpatient facilities, providing continuity of care and a reassuring and settling environment.

Joan Newman, bone marrow transplant clinical nurse specialist, said: “I would like to say a special thank you to everyone who has supported the appeal so far.

“We hope that Daily Echo readers will help us to raise the money that we need to make our plans for this vital unit a reality.

“Your £1 will help us to provide life-saving treatments to patients with blood cancers, in an environment to match our world-class standard of treatment.”

  • DETERMINED to get the ball rolling, Daily Echo editor Ian Murray has been the first to whip out his phone and text £1 to the appeal.
  • Thanks to a dedicated text number donating your quid could not be easier and takes less than a minute.
  • To make your £1 donation text ECHO01 £1 to 70070.
  • But if you haven’t got to grips with texting yet, fear not, you can donate by calling 023 8079 4093.