18 September 2019
Inspired by a young girl's journey to find a matching donor, and pleased to find that he was still an eligible age to register, David signed up as a potential donor with DKMS.
Viewing donation as a common-sense act, he had no idea the impact he was having on the person in need of the transplant and their family. That is until he mentioned his donation on Twitter.
The heartfelt reaction he received from strangers has inspired him to share his story and encourage others to seize the opportunity to make a difference.
"Hi, I'm David and I am 45 years old. I had thought about bone marrow or stem cell donation for many years, but I was under the impression that at the ripe old age of 42 I had missed the boat. Then I saw a DKMS campaign for a local child Ava, who had twice been matched with a donor who was unable to donate at the last minute for medical reasons and she was looking for another match. I just knew that I had to do something, so I contacted DKMS after confirming that as I was under 55, I was indeed able to register. So I took the swabs and sent them back to DKMS.
I was on a Ferry back from Arran when I received my first call saying that I was a possible match for a patient who required a stem cell transplant. I was completely gobsmacked and excited at this chance to help. However, at that time the patient's team decided to go with another donor. I thought that was my chance gone and whilst glad there was a better match, I did feel slightly deflated, and put it to one side."
"I was excited and nervous"
"Then around 2 years later I received another call saying that a team somewhere wanted me to donate for their patient. I was excited and nervous, especially as I knew this time I did not have to wait on the blood matching process. Within a few weeks, I had a medical exam in a clinic which cleared me as fit for donation and then a few weeks later I stayed for 2 nights in a hotel close to the clinic to complete the donation."
David's donation story
"To get ready for the donation I had to inject myself twice a day with G-CSF to help encourage more stem cells to be produced. I did these myself in the abdominal area and you can feel flu-like symptoms as a result of them. Paracetamol did help.
On donation day I arrived at the clinic and I was hooked up to the machine - basically, a centrifuge that spins at 1000 rpm and filters out stem cells returning the rest to me. I sat for 4 hours reading my book, playing stupid facebook games and quizzes. The staff were all amazing. I was disconnected and waited for the count of stem cells (5 million was the target) it could take a while...
Anyway, we collected 7.69 million. Go me! These were sent to the patient, an older person in Belgium, for transplant a.s.a.p."
"In the time coming up to the donation, I didn't feel particularly special. I was just someone doing what he could to help give a chance of life to another human being. It wasn't about me, it was always about the person needing the transplant. So to be called a hero and amazing and a lifesaver felt odd to me. Then it hit me on the morning of the donation, I had sent a tweet the day previously about the upcoming donation which was retweeted by DKMS. The response was overwhelming. A mother who said her child had a transplant before they had reached 12months and was now 8 years old, someone else who would now be here to see their children grow up, and more stories like that. I began to see what a difference I was making and I was in tears of joy.
Still, I am not a superhero, I am just an ordinary guy who saw an opportunity to make a difference - and you can too. You know what if you asked me if I would do it all again (and DKMS have). I would have no hesitation."
Become a lifesaver like David
Thank you, David, for giving someone a second chance at life. You'll always be a hero to that family.
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.