28 May 2019
In 2016, DKMS organised a registration event to help find a match for a young boy in urgent need of a blood stem cell transplant. Inspired by this boy’s story, Bradley joined the UK’s aligned stem cell registry in his lunch break, and took his first steps towards becoming a potential lifesaver.
Less than two years after registering, Bradley received a call from us to say he had been identified as a potential match for someone in need.
Thank you Bradley for being a lifesaver and giving somebody a second chance at life. A year on from his donation Bradley has completed this year’s London Marathon and is urging others to make their mark this World Blood Cancer Day (28 May).
Being a lifesaver
“An email came round at work from a colleague who knew of a little boy, local to the area, that needed an urgent bone marrow donation. The family were appealing to the local community to sign up to the registry to see if they could find a match. A group of us attended the registration event and signed up - it was very quick and easy to do.
I was on the registry for a few years before I got a call saying I was a potential match for someone. It caught me by surprise as I was at work and not expecting it at all. I’d always thought maybe one day I’d get a call, but it all happened really quickly - DKMS were very thorough and made everything very simple. It all just happened from there.
Receiving that all important call…
It’s quite hard to get your head around really. You wonder what it is about yourself that has the opportunity to potentially save someone’s life. It didn’t really sink in properly – the enormity of it – but when you start to learn more about it you realise what an amazing phone call it is to get.
It’s strange to think of the changeable circumstances. If I hadn’t joined my company I would never have seen that email, or if I was off work that day…
It’s not until you start to read about these things that you realise how important it is to drive the awareness and get more people involved and signed up to the register. With most types of cancer there isn’t much that ordinary people can do to help, but with blood cancer, you can actually help save people by signing up, so DKMS is a really important charity. You just never know who in your family, or friends might need some help in the future and the more people are registered, the more chance everyone has of finding a match.
The donation process
I donated through the peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection. The actual donation itself didn’t hurt, and it wasn’t uncomfortable – I was just sitting in a bed for four-five hours, with an iPad and things to watch. I could feel the needles in my arm but it wasn’t painful. I’m not a big fan of injections, but it was fine!
The clinic was very good, it was very well organised, and DKMS were always very approachable if I phoned with any questions and they arranged all of my travel too.
I have to say, having done the donation, it’s really nothing in comparison to the person who is fighting blood cancer. It’s a very small sacrifice from my side to try to save a person’s life.
People have described me as a ‘hero’ but I don’t consider myself a hero. It wasn’t being a hero, it was just the right thing to do!
All I know about the patient I donated to is that they’re just a little bit older than me, and from the Netherlands.
I would very much like to meet them in the future if they wanted to, it would be an amazing thing to do. I’d ask them what they’re most looking forward to now they’ve got their life back. What are their plans? Just get to know them. You never know, you could end up becoming very close friends with them. Above all else I’d just like to give them a hug!
I hope my story can help put other potential donors at ease, or raise some more awareness. Having done it I’m very passionate about DKMS. It is an amazing feeling knowing you’ve given someone a second chance – being a donor is one of the best things I’ve ever done."
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?