"Compared to the patient I am not the brave one. I am grateful I got the opportunity."

28 August 2018

Louise recently gave someone a second chance of life by donating some of her blood stem cells. The donation method chosen by the recipient's clinical team was peripheral blood stem cell donation or, PBSC which is used in 90% of stem cell donations. PBSC involves taking blood from one of the donor’s arms and passing it through a machine that isolates some of the donor’s blood stem cells. The donor’s blood is then returned to them through their other arm.

Louise had a slightly different experience of donating in this way to most people. Due to small veins in her arms she was offered the option to donate via a special central line inserted into a larger vein in her neck.

DKMS medical consultant Dr Khaled El-Ghariani explains for us:

“Louise’s case is uncommon. Whether the donor’s veins would be suitable becomes clear when bloods are being taken from the donor during their medical assessment. In the unlikely event that none of the veins in the donor’s arms are suitable, alternative options will be discussed with the donor. Inserting a central line into a larger vein in the donor’s neck is one of these options and it’s usually performed under a local anaesthetic. The alternatives will depend on the donor’s situation and what they feel comfortable with. Central lines can also be inserted in the groin.”

Louise tells her full blood stem cell donation story

I don't remember why I signed up. My husband thinks we had seen an appeal for help and felt compelled to join the register. We signed up in 2015 and didn't give it any more thought so I got a huge shock when in June this year I was told that I had been identified as a potential match for a patient, I just needed to go for a blood draw. The blood draws weren't easy as apparently I have tiny veins. Despite this I was identified as a potential match.

It was at my medical at the London Clinic I was advised that I may be a candidate for a neck line. D-day was set for my children's first day back to school I just had to remind myself of the bigger picture.

The injections were fine and the only side effect was fatigue which a flight delay and 4 hours sleep the night before the donation did not help. On the day of the donation my veins weren't co-operating so off I went to get the neck line inserted. This was done under local anaesthetic so it was not painful but it was uncomfortable while the doctor was inserting the line.

Once the four hours was done I had to wait to find out if we had collected enough. I was overjoyed to hear that we had collected DOUBLE THE REQUIREMENT!! This meant that I didn't need to stay overnight at the clinic and I could get my neck line removed. More importantly though it also meant that the extra stem cells could be frozen in case the patient needed them again. My cells were winging their way to a lady in the USA.

After the donation I was very tired and didn't have much of an appetite for about three days. However when asked I agreed to stay on the register. I am told by so many friends that I am brave and I have done such a precious thing but compared to the patient I am not the brave one. I am grateful I got the opportunity. 

Become a blood stem cell donor 

Thank you to Louise for her selfless act of donation and giving a lady in the USA, a second chance of life. 

If you’re feeling inspired and would like to register, check your eligibility and sign up as a potential blood stem cell donor today. Anyone aged between 17-55 and in general good health can go on standby to save a life.

If you are not eligible or are already registered, why not check the other ways to get involved in the fight against blood cancer or help us cover donor registration costs?