13 April 2018
A lot of thoughts rushed through Clare’s mind when she was identified as a potential blood stem cell match for someone in need. Her fear of needles was one of those thoughts. However, Clare was so keen to help that she went ahead with the donation without hesitation.
She and her daughter have now proudly shared her inspiring blood stem cell donor experience.
“I saw a campaign looking for a donor for a little girl who was around my youngest daughter’s age. As soon as I read her story in the local press I registered as a potential blood stem cell donor on the DKMS website. I also shared the campaign on social media as the little girl’s story really hit home and I wanted to encourage as many people as possible to register as well.
A little while after I had registered I saw that the girl had found a match and received her blood stem cell transplant. It was so wonderful to read her story and see what a difference a blood stem cell donation can make.
The opportunity to help someone comes with a mystery call.
I was at work and saw I had a missed call from a number I didn’t recognise. As I was wondering who it could be I received a text saying I was a potential match for someone in need of a blood stem cell transplant. It was a bit of a shock at first and then almost instantly I felt amazed that I may get the opportunity to help someone.
I called the number back and they explained that if I was okay with it, I’d be required to go for a blood test at my GP surgery. The blood would be sent for testing to confirm that I was a suitable match. I said yes straight away. I was a bit nervous at the thought of it but was certain I wanted to help if I could.
That night I read through lots of information about the donation process. I spoke to my husband and my eldest daughter and explained what I was going to be tested for. They were totally supportive. I felt really at ease that night and hoped I’d be a good match.
I got a call to let me know that I was indeed a good match. During that call Claire from DKMS explained the whole process to me and answered my questions. She also sent lots of info in the post and by email.
We talked about dates and she arranged everything to make sure I wouldn’t miss my sister’s hen weekend.
I travelled to the clinic for a full health check to make sure it was safe for me to donate my blood stem cells. DKMS arranged all the travel tickets for this so it was as easy as possible for me. The health check was really thorough and the whole team at the clinic were so friendly and explained everything again. I even got a lovely pot of tea and biscuits while I was there. It was lovely to be told that I had a clean bill of health – I also felt incredibly grateful for that.
A couple of week later I began receiving a course of GCSF injections. These were to mobilise the stem cells so they could be collected from my blood. A nurse came to me each day for four days to give me the injections. I had been told beforehand they would make me feel tired and achy. At first I barely felt any different but by the fourth day I was quite tired and had to take some paracetamol as my back was quite sore if I moved around a lot. Although a wee bit of a nuisance, the pain was a positive sign as it meant the injections were working.
On the fourth day my husband and I travelled to a hotel near the clinic (all arranged by DKMS). We attended the clinic early the next morning where, very quickly, the medical team had me hooked up to the machine that would filter the stem cells from my blood.
I’m really scared of needles so I felt nervous but the nurses were so lovely and made sure I was comfortable.
I stayed on the machine for four hours. At one point my lips and fingers were tingling which meant I needed calcium (it was a common side effect of the anti-coagulant that is used). The nurses were on hand to help and I was given calcium through a drip for the duration of the process. Once that was dealt with it was just a case of catching up with the series I was watching on Netflix.
After that my husband and I did some sightseeing before going for dinner nearby. We stayed in the hotel again as I was needed the next morning to do another four hours on the machine (this doesn’t always happen but I hadn’t quite reached the targeted amount on the first day). The second time round was easy as I knew exactly what to expect.
Before I knew it we were travelling back home.
After the donation I felt really tired and slept a lot – kind of like when you have the flu. I ended up being unwell – probably due to the time of year too with so many bugs around. I took it really easy for a couple of weeks and now I’m feeling great. I am so grateful for my health and feel so glad that I was able to be part of what DKMS do.
It’s hard to put into words how much the opportunity to donate my blood stem cells to someone in need means to me. It’s a real honour. So often we see people who are unwell and we feel helpless. It was really special to have the chance to do something to help.
I was told the recipient lives in Denmark. This really excited my daughter as we joked that it means I must have ‘Viking blood’ to have been matched with them.”
A massive thanks goes out to Clare for giving a second chance of life to someone in need and for taking the time to raise awareness by sharing her story.
How you can help
If you’d like to register as a potential blood stem cell donor you can check your eligibility and sign up today. Anyone aged between 17-55 and in general good health can go on standby as a potential lifesaver.
If you’re not eligible or you’re already registered, why not check the other ways to get involved in the fight against blood cancer or help us cover donor registration costs?