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Stem Cell Donation

Updated on September 1, 2017

Why stem cell donors are needed.

My Story..

I don't recall exactly when I registered as a donor for The Anthony Nolan Trust, though I do know it was many years ago in my late teens. Neither do I recall where I joined the register, I do recall Anthony Nolan being in the news and media and his mothers plight at not being able to find a suitable donor for him. Like everyone else at the time, I was sad to read that Anthony did not survive his illness. I'm certain that sad story is why I joined and the fact that I have faith in the generosity of people and believing someone out there would most probably donate for me or my loved ones if ever need be!

In all these years I have given a couple of blood samples as I may have been a potential match to someone but there never was a match! However this third potential match to a patient turned out to be a compatible match which quite surprised me! For the third time, I had taken the blood sample kit that I received off the trust to my local clinic and after the nurse drew off my blood and safely packaged the container, I sent it back by mail to Anthony Nolan. I was expecting to receive letters as previous, stating that I was not a match and thank you for your time!

You are compatible.

I made the phone call and agreed to donate.

Following correspondence by telephone and mail It was confirmed that I should attend a medical examination at ROYAL FREE HOSPITAL,LONDON,UK. The date was set for 10:00am on the 6th of April 2010.

It was agreed with the trust that I should travel to London with my wife as companion and we were driving to the hospital by car! I was remunerated my expenses for the day and my wife booked a day off work! The charity promised to remunerate my wife her loss of earnings for the day too, but we chose not to accept! We saved all of our receipts for petrol and parking etcetera!

The hospital is within the LONDON CONGESTION ZONE and the necessary congestion fee should be paid in advance which can be easily pre booked online.

At the hospital I was given a thorough examination to determine my fitness to donate and I also had a cardiogram. The staff, the nurses and Doctors were really helpful and friendly throughout the morning! Thankfully I was deemed fit to donate.

Prior to my stem cell harvest day on the 28th April 2010 I would need to have a total of three injections over three days of a drug that promotes stem cell growth, the first two injections would be at my home given by a home visit nurse. The injection is into a fleshy part of the body like the upper arm or abdomen, the injection is not into muscle tissue. The third would be in London the day before my donation took place. Normally the body produces insufficient quantity's of stem cells for efficient harvest and the drug boosts the production of stem cells.

Anthony Nolan made all the necessary arrangements for a two night stay in a hotel near to the Royal Free. All I had to do was to be at the hospital at the designated time for my final injection the day before harvest day. I parked our car in the hotels underground car park for the two day period we were in London. In between visiting the hospital my wife and I managed to fit in a little sightseeing of our capital city. We had a lovely stroll through Hyde park and shopped for souvenirs at the world famous 'Harrods' department store.

I was well prepared and informed, I knew exactly what to expect on the day of my donation. I was allowed to have my wife with me all the time I was there and that the process of harvesting the cells could take up to five hours and all this time would be spent lying on a bed. You aren't allowed to move about when the harvest takes place. Prior to visiting the hospital I bought a few newspapers and magazines from a local newsagent to keep my mind occupied. The oncology nurses were terrific at looking after me and told me every step of what they were doing. I never even felt the needles being inserted, one to take out my blood with the stem cells and the other to put back my blood without stem cells.Even now, I recall the machine clicking away as it counted the cells. After the five hour harvest I was fine, although I do admit to being just a little bored. My wife and I walked back to the hotel for our final night in London.

Would I do it all over again? Without a shadow of doubt, of course I would!

It was a remarkable experience for me, made even more remarkable when just over a year later I received another letter.

In the process of having stem cells harvested in the Oncology ward of The Royal Free Hospital London

Stem Cell harvesting.

It wasn't difficult to help to save someone's life, it just took a little of my time and the determination to see the whole process through to the end!.

I wasn't out of pocket, Anthony Nolan covered all of my expenses and my work place gave me paid leave on compassionate grounds!

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