A bit of a different topic for my first blog post in a long while!
As I sit chilling out I am reminded of the significance of today’s date.
Exactly this time last month I was being wheeled up to a hospital ward having just donated bone marrow to potentially help save the life of a young child with Cancer. Everyone has it in them to save a life and hopefully after reading this you will consider signing up as it is such a worthwhile thing to do and can change the lives of so many.
Around 10 years previously my cousin Elaine was fighting her own battle with Cancer and it so happened that there was a drive by Anthony Nolan to find a match for a local child who was in need of a bone marrow or Stem Cell match. After speaking with Elaine we decided (I say we as I like to think that I had some input in the matter :D) that I would go to the event and register as a donor.
Registering was really easy, a quick form to fill in along with a swab in the mouth and we were done. “You will probably never hear anything from us as a small minority are ever picked” I was told and off I went.
For 10 years this was the case until my phone and my wife’s phone got text messages at the same time along with 2 seperate emails. The texts informed me that I was a potential match for someone on the Anthony Nolan register and if I would be prepared to donate. Things just got real!
With Elaine being very ill all those years ago I remember wishing there was something or someone who could help make her better but unfortunately that was not the case. I knew how the other family would be feeling and could relate to their position so there was little chance of me backing out from donating. Having my own child too added more emphasis for me. If it was possible, I would have donated that day.
Anthony Nolan were excellent in sending out all of the information regarding the operation and what was to be expected along with what would happen on the patients side. They organised everything from transport to accommodation for both my medical and my donation.
The medical that Anthony Nolan give prior to donation is very thorough. It consists of blood checks, chest scan, ECG tests and general wellness checks. Which I am glad to say I passed with flying colours which gave me great peace of mind, not only that I was OK but there were no risks to the recipient either. After the all clear I was given a date for donation.
The donation date came around really quickly and I was soon off to London to the University of London Hospital. I had never had an operation before so I was trying my best to think of anything but the operation. Being scared of needles was playing on my mind but I really had to “man up” :D. I had watched a YouTube video previously (I know … I know) as I was curious as to what the procedure was but even this didn’t put any fear into me so I knew that I was ready! The staff at the hospital were all fantastic and helped out my mind at ease also.
In the morning I was taken down to theatre and put under general anaesthetic. I remember waking up a short time later none the wiser as to what had happened. It was like magic!
The medical team had taken over 1.5 litres of bone marrow from 2 areas in my lower back (pelvic bone) by the time I had woken up the bone marrow was already being whisked to its recipient to start the process of giving them a second chance. It was an amazing feeling!
There is a lot of misconceptions about bone marrow donation in that people think it is very sore. Actually.. you don’t feel a thing. Yes, there is slight discomfort afterwards for a little while but in the grand scheme of things it is a little pain for a lot of gain. I was up and walking around a couple of hours later that day.
You are potentially giving someone and their family and friends the chance of a lifetime and I for one feel privileged to be able to donate. I also kept the promise to my Cousin that I would help someone if I could.
So today, I sit here fully recovered and thinking of the recipient, wishing them all the best and hoping that they are on the road to recovery.
You can register to donate at the following sites and they would be thrilled to have your help. Things have progressed a lot since I registered and they can even post out kits to your home in order for you to register. All it takes is a spit and you could save someone’s life.
There are people out there at the moment needing stem cell and bone marrow transplants, you never know, maybe you can give them the chance that they need.
16-30 year olds via @AnthonyNolan
18-55 year olds via @DKMS_uk