Julie donates to give someone a second chance of life

6 July 2017

When Julie was inspired to register as a potential blood stem cell donor, little did she know that just 18 months later, she would begin a process that led to her giving someone a second chance of life. Here, Julie gives an insight into what it is like to donate blood stem cells:

Blood stem cell donor, Julie, after donating via bone marrow collection

“My name is Julie, I'm 41 and about 18 months after registering with DKMS I received a phone call asking me if I was happy to proceed with a blood stem cell donation.

I'd been sent to my doctor for blood tests earlier in the year and put on hold as there was more than one matching donor in this case. I was nervous when I received the call to say I'd be the one actually donating, it was becoming a reality. I was also really excited to have the opportunity to help someone, my mind was racing thinking of what was ahead of me...this was happening!

After a further phone call to discuss arrangements, train tickets were sent to me and I soon travelled to a private hospital for my medical assessment to confirm I was fit to proceed. I was really worried about going for this medical but needn't have been because the staff were very nice, they immediately put me at ease and looked after me very well.

It was here that I learned that my recipient was a very young child, this was something I hadn't even considered and I still feel emotional to think of that fact. Because of their age, I was asked if I was happy to donate bone marrow as it would give the recipient the best chance of treatment being successful. I didn't hesitate to say yes.

A couple of weeks later, I returned to make my donation. A short stay in hospital and just a few of days of very mild bruising and it was over. I've heard donating bone marrow called "the hard way" but it wasn't hard at all, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

A follow up call from DKMS once I was back at home to see how I was told me my little recipient lives in The Netherlands. I hope every day that my bone marrow is working its magic.

It feels amazing to have given the most meaningful gift I'll probably ever give. Putting myself out for a few days to donate wasn't a big deal, but for the person needing a bone marrow transplant, it was. The helplessness of waiting for a donor to give even a chance of life saving treatment must be horrendous for both a patient and their loved ones. This is what motivated me to register.

Think about it, you or one of your loved ones might need a stranger's help one day. I urge everyone to consider registering if you haven't already, it's the best feeling if you're lucky enough to be a match.”

Have you been inspired by Julie’s story? If you are in good health and are aged between 17 and 55 years, you can register as a potential blood stem cell donor too.

If you are not eligible or have already registered with Anthony Nolan, NHS Blood & Transplant or the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry, why not check the other ways to get involved in the fight against blood cancer?