5 March 2019
After being inspired by an episode of Home & Away Dan wanted to help give someone a second chance at life, so he took the first step to become a blood stem cell donor.
Dan registered online for his home swab kit in June 2018 and just two months later he donated his blood stem cells to a complete stranger through a peripheral blood stem cell collection (PBSC).
Dan shares his donation story and his additional fundraising efforts with his ‘Dan’s The Night Away’ variety show to help raise awareness of blood cancer, the importance of blood stem cell donations and raise vital funds to register even more donors.
Inspired by Home & Away
“I decided to register with DKMS in last year. Funnily enough it all came about because I was inspired by an episode of Home & Away. Maggie Astoni [played by actor Kestie Morassi] was battling lymphoma and needed a blood stem cell donation and it touched a nerve with me. I had a friend a few years previously who died of leukaemia, so could really relate to the story. As I watched it, I thought to myself that maybe there was something I could do to help and that’s when I discovered DKMS.
The first step I took was to request for a home swab kit online, which wasn’t difficult at all. Actually, it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. I simply registered on the DKMS website and before I knew it I received the home swab kit in the post. I opened up the pack and swabbed the inside of my cheeks. It was a few minutes out of my life – it was easy. I then returned my completed swab kit in the post to DKMS, so my details could be added to the UK’s aligned stem cell registry. It was that easy.
Phone call from DKMS
I received a phone call from DKMS a few months later to say I had been identified as a possible match for someone with blood cancer and asked whether I’d still be interested in donating my blood stem cells. It was all really fast and a bit like a whirlwind. I was aware that I could have been on the registry for years before being identified as a match for someone (if at all), but for me it felt like minutes. I was delighted I could potentially help save someone.
On the call DKMS explained what the next steps would be and gave me more information on the two donation methods. The phone call was very informative. All I could think was wow, this is really good. I said yes straight away to being a potential lifesaver and knowing that I could help give this stranger a second chance of life was an incredible feeling.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much family left, so I was honoured to have an opportunity to potentially save the life of someone in urgent need of my blood stem cells. The moment I registered on the DKMS website I had made the decision that as soon as I received a call (if one came) it wouldn’t matter what I was doing I’d donate my blood stem cells. To know I had a genetic twin somewhere in the world made it even more exciting!
I had to go for additional testing and I received the date that the donation would take place. The clinic was so posh. It wasn’t anything like my normal hospital. I was quite shocked, because it was like going into a hotel. It was so nice and I felt really comfortable throughout.
I donated my blood stem cells through a PBSC collection. I was originally asked to donate through the bone marrow collection, however, I was about 8lbs overweight, so the doctors said they’d rather go with PBSC collection. I told them it doesn’t matter how you do it, just take my stem cells.
A word to other potential lifesavers
I’d tell anyone who’s not on the DKMS register to just do it. Cheek swabbing is just a few moments out of your life to potentially help save someone else and it’s just brilliant. It’s the most awesome feeling you can get. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool and I’ve got a big mouth - it’s helped to get at least 10 other people signed up and they are currently on standby waiting to receive that all important call.
Dan’s The Night Away
After donating my blood stem cells, I felt inspired to do more and help the 2,000 people in the UK searching for their matching blood stem cell donor each year. So I decided to host ‘Dan’s The Night Away’ on 25 January 2019 to raise vital funds to register even more donors.
I set a fundraising target of £1,000 and with the support of DE Caversmill Theatre, Jollees and our host Miss Charity Staffordshire Madison Crowther, we smashed this. The evening went really well and I’ve already been asked to hold ‘Dan’s The Second Night Away’…. so watch this space!
I think I missed my vocation in life, so if I'm a match for anybody else give me a call - you know I'm going to do it again.
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?