2 May 2017
Dagmara became a potential blood stem cell donor through DKMS in her native Poland in 2010. She had even forgotten about registering when she received a phone call five years later to inform her that she was a match for someone in need. Now living in the UK, Dagmara explains what it was like to donate her blood stem cells:
“I first heard about DKMS many years ago. I was a teenager. It was so long ago that I am not sure exactly when it was, but I remember my first thought was – ‘I want to join’. I didn’t think long about it, it was obvious to me that maybe in the future I might save somebody’s life.
I remember the day I was told I was a match for someone. It was in December 2015 and I came back from work. I just started preparing food and then the phone rang. I didn’t have a clue who was calling me and usually I never answer calls from unknown numbers. This time was different. I felt I should press the green button. When the person who called said ‘Good morning, I am calling you from Foundation DKMS’ I already knew why she called me. I joined DKMS in Poland five years ago and really forgot about it. This phone call made my knees shake!
Katarzyna at DKMS told me that I have my gene twin and they needed my help. She asked me if I still wanted to help. I didn’t think for too long, I said – of course! I can’t imagine that my answer could be any different. I had only one question – if somebody from my family would be ill, would it be possible to donate bone marrow for a second time? The answer was yes. It was very exciting! I could give the patient’s family a new hope and a nice Christmas present. They probably did not think that it could be their last Christmas…
I was waiting for three months for the big day, but nothing happened. DKMS called me and said that unfortunately they had to cancel everything because the patient was not well. This was very difficult news to take and I was really sad because I thought that all stories have got a happy ending… Then a miracle happened. DKMS called me one month later and asked if I was still ready. Of course! I was surprised thinking that they had found a second twin… but it was still the same person, and her health had improved. I was crying… because I was so happy!
Everything happens quickly. First of all I had a blood test, then I had another blood check. It is very important to check that I could donate and I was healthy. When I passed the tests correctly I went into hospital and had a lot of tests – chest, heart, blood pressure, kidney, skin etc. The doctors checked everything. It was very good and I have to say that it was the first time in my life when I had so many tests! The hospital where my donation happened was in a different city and DKMS organized the hotel and paid for the travel and food costs. That summer, I gave some of my bone marrow to a little girl.
After donating, I felt a little weak for first week, but giving bone marrow doesn’t hurt. I gave marrow from my hip bone, which meant that during “surgery” I was asleep and woke up after everything was finished. Afterwards, I had two small dots on my back but it didn’t hurt me. My friend Ania was next to me and brought me a lot of food. I remember that I was really hungry and happy that I did that. I tried to save somebody’s life. People think that giving bone marrow is painful, but it isn’t. Of course afterwards our bodies need to regenerate, but it doesn’t take long. Now it is almost one year on and I feel great.
The donation was a very important event in my life which I will never forget. It is something that you can’t really explain. After that, you start to feel a soulful bond and relationship with the person you donated to. You are really happy because it is the most valuable thing and giving someone a second chance of life is priceless. At the end of the year, when looking back, I can say that this year I tried to save somebody’s life… I tried to give a little girl a second chance of life. This is the most beautiful thing which I have ever done.
We should always think, that if one day I become ill, I would like to find a matching donor who would say ‘yes’, and give me a second chance of life. So, if you have not yet registered as a potential blood stem cell donor with DKMS, then do that today and you could one day save someone’s life.”
Inspired by Dagmara's story? If you are in good health and are aged between 17 and 55 years, you can register as a potential blood stem cell donor too.
If you are not eligible or have already registered with Anthony Nolan, NHS Blood & Transplant or the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry, why not check out some other ways to join the fight against blood cancer?