‘Diamonds for Rice’ – a patient’s story
‘Diamonds for Rice’ tells the remarkable story of Eric Evans who has survived a terrorist’s bomb, a civil war, blood cancer – and two bone marrow transplants from the same young donor.
Eric stood next to the terrorist who bombed Orly Airport, survived interrogations in war-torn Liberia and bought his way out of that brutal civil war with a few bags of rice.
Now Eric is sharing his story with the world and urging potential bone marrow donors to join his ‘Donors are Diamonds’ campaign.
After six extraordinary decades, Eric lay in hospital with his life hanging in the balance when he decided that he must complete his book.
But how would he be able to explain his incredible story and life-changing medical experiences? The only way was a unique format where Eric’s two stories run side by side. As he undergoes his treatment he links, chapter by chapter, to his dramatic real-life adventures.
The result is ‘Diamonds for Rice’. It is an astonishing true story covering the North Sea oil boom; the carnage in Africa; a worldwide search for a donor; two bone marrow transplants and a friendship, born out of the ultimate act of selflessness.
The memoir has taken Eric over a decade to write – and he will donate 45% of the proceeds to blood cancer charities Anthony Nolan, Delete Blood Cancer UK and Full Circle Fund Therapies.
Truly grateful for surviving blood cancer twice, Eric is determined to raise awareness of the need for potential bone marrow donors through the book and his campaign – inspired by his own donor, a young man in Germany.
Eric said: “I could have died without my daughters knowing anything about my life. I decided to dedicate my book to them and my friend, double donor Axel – without him the story would have ended a long time ago!
“Donors like Axel are diamonds – precious and hard to find. Our campaign, I am sure, will uncover more of these gems.
“My other reason for writing this book is to raise vital funds for Anthony Nolan and Delete Blood Cancer UK, so that they can find more ‘diamonds’ like Axel. Without these amazing charities, I wouldn’t be alive today to tell this story. Full Circle Fund Therapies also helped me so much – I am indebted to that organisation, too.”
Eric left college at seventeen, profited from the North Sea Oil industry and became a millionaire at the age of twenty-eight.
Life was good for the young businessman who owned a mansion, a fleet of luxury cars, two aircraft and a top nightclub. He took over a logging company in Liberia – but the country erupted into civil war. Diamonds, provided by little children, gave him a means of escape. He paid for those diamonds with bags of rice.
“That spectacular country was riddled with corruption and soaked in blood. The carnage was unbelievable,” said Eric.
More traumas followed. Eric was diagnosed with a blood cancer called myelofibrosis, which meant a long search for a bone marrow donor through Anthony Nolan.
Fortunately, a donor was found on the German DKMS register – unknown to Eric at the time, his anonymous lifesaver was a young man called Axel Drewes.
“Thanks to Axel, I felt reborn. Finally life was on the ‘up’ again – until the world economy imploded in 2008, and my bone marrow disease returned. Once again my hero Axel came to the rescue.”
Eric lost his fortune as well as his health.
“In January 2013, my finances took a downturn. Since then my life has revolved around enduring, happy fundamentals; my family, health and an appreciation of nature.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to meet my saviour Axel and his wife Stefanie – we enjoyed a week’s holiday in Spain together. It was an indescribable feeling to be beside my ‘genetic twin’; the man who saved my life on two occasions.”
When Axel left for the airport he handed a card, with a picture of the Virgin Mary, to Eric. He said: “This card will take good care of you. And if you ever need anything else from me, know that you have it.”
Eric still carries the card in his wallet today. “Axel is truly a remarkable man: humble and kind. I am blessed to have his steadfast and unconditional support.”
Axel was reunited with Eric at the launch of Diamonds for Rice in Waterstones Piccadilly.
Axel said: “It is such a great feeling to help Eric twice. When I eventually was allowed to meet him, I realised the importance of bone marrow transplants. He is a great man with a fantastic story and certainly deserves to live.
“People who read the book will now understand about genetic twins. Both are now healthy – one living in the UK and the other in Germany. Because of this amazing book I hope that more and more people will join the database to save even more lives. I would also like to thank Anthony Nolan, Delete Blood Cancer and DKMS in Germany who are doing such a tremendous job.”
Richard Davidson, Director of Communications and Marketing at Anthony Nolan, said: “Eric’s remarkable story is just one example of what can happen when a selfless stranger like Axel takes the life-changing step to join a stem cell register. By reading Diamonds for Rice, you can help to change the course of someone’s destiny by raising vital funds and enabling us to recruit more lifesaving donors like Axel.”
Peter Mas-Mollinedo, chief executive of Delete Blood Cancer UK, said: “Eric’s story is testament to the importance of registering as a potential stem cell donor. It took Axel, his donor, a few minutes to register – but provided Eric with a future.”
Random House ghostwriter David Meikle, who has written several bestsellers including Charlie Richardson, The Last Gangster, worked with Eric over 18 months. They came up with a unique structure, where the medical dramas link into Eric’s incredible adventures.
David said: “I have never come across a true story like this. Just when I thought I’d heard everything, Eric came up with more amazing escapades. He’s passionate about raising money and saving more lives, so I wish him all the best with his ‘Donors are Diamonds’ project.”
Full Circle Fund Therapies have worked closely with Eric during his treatment over many years. The organisation provides award winning care, free of charge, when it matters most.
Suzanne Ruggles, Founder Director, said: “As a leading NHS-based therapy service, research and education is central to our work, and we deliver innovative and evidence-based supportive programmes to both local and national audiences. Fundraising and community support are vital to our continued work as a charity, because we receive no NHS funding.“
In addition to the donations to Anthony Nolan and Delete Blood Cancer, Full Circle Fund Therapies will receive 15% from online book sales of Diamonds for Rice.
The book can be purchased at: