19 July 2018
After seeing a heartbreaking appeal for a local child who was searching for his lifesaver, father of two, Stephen, sprung into action and registered as a potential blood stem cell donor with DKMS in 2015.
Within 2 years, Stephen, a Commercial Air Diver, had received an important message to say that he had been identified as a potential match for someone. He went on to donate his blood stem cells to someone in need of a lifesaving transplant though a peripheral blood stem cell collection early last year.
Stephen is urging others to register as a potential blood stem cell donor and go on standby to help save the life of someone in need.
Taking the first steps
“After hearing the story about a local lad looking for his lifesaver, I registered online and received my swab kit through the door. I swabbed my cheeks, sent the kit back and went on standby to save someone’s life.
It was roughly about a year and half later that I received a message saying I was a potential match for someone. I had to go for additional tests to find out if I was the best possible match for the patient. I just wanted to get the donation done quickly to help this poor soul out.
Ahead of the donation
I felt fine ahead of the donation and wasn’t worried about anything. A few days before, I needed to take some injections to increase my level of blood stem cells ready for collection.
Normally people would go to their doctor for these but with my job as a diver, it was really difficult to get back home. Determined not to delay things, I was able to do the injections myself.
My family and friends were really proud of me and thought I was lucky to have been chosen as a match for someone. DKMS ask you to be prepared to donate through both methods of donation (peripheral blood stem cell collection or bone marrow collection), and I would have been happy to do either.
In the end I donated my blood stem cells through a peripheral blood stem cell donation, which is used in 90% of cases – where the blood is passed through a machine that isolates and collects the stem cells.
In order to ensure enough blood stem cells were collected, I had to donate additional stem cells on a second consecutive day.
The donation process was painless and it only took a few hours – I took lots of films with me to keep me entertained, just in case! Following the donation, I actually felt alright. I didn’t have any pain or side effects and was back diving pretty much straightaway.
All I knew about the person that I donated my blood stem cells to was that he was male and living in America – I didn’t know age or race but that didn’t matter to me – I just wanted to help him out.
Being a lifesaver
You never know who you could be a match for - it could be someone's mother, brother or friend. If you, your family member or friend needed a match you would be begging for a donor to come forward and encouraging everyone you knew to sign up – so please take the time to register.
I wouldn’t even need to think twice about donating again. If there was someone out there who needed my help I would 100% do it.”
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?