You really can save someone’s life

The DKMS Scotland hub was set up by Steven after he saw a patient campaign and realised there was a lack of awareness in Scotland.

“DKMS was not a well known organisation in Scotland and I wanted to change that”.

Fast forward two years and Steven now has a small team of volunteers who all have unique stories about how they came to be a DKMS volunteer. You can read their stories below.

“We have a passion to help find as many potential donors as possible for blood cancer patients matches across the country. It is such a simple process. You really can save someone's life.”

Please help Steven and the team on their mission, join the register today and take the first step to saving a life. If you're unable to join the register but would still like to help, get in touch below to find out about local volunteering opportunities and others ways to support DKMS.

Jamie's Story

In June 2016, I was a 38 year old really fit and healthy guy with a full on responsible job and a beautiful wife pregnant with twin girls.

I was decorating the girls room for when they arrived, and got a really sore back. I was in progressively more pain and the days went by and had been to my GP and A&E a number of times.

One Saturday morning, my wife called an ambulance as the pain in my back was radiating around my chest and I thought I was having a heart attack.

When I arrived at A&E, I was rushed into the High Dependency Unit and thankfully, an on call Haematologist saw my symptoms and suspected I had Leukaemia. His suspected diagnosis was correct, and it had become quite advanced.

Hearing that I had Cancer was a shock to everyone who knew me! I’ve always been strong as an ox and the least likely person to fall ill.

I was also told that my type of Leukaemia (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia) was particularly aggressive and had a chromosomal abnormality that would cause it to continue recurring until it killed me, unless I managed to find a Stem Cell Donor match from the international registry. I first became aware of DKMS at that stage, as a huge contributor to the drive to recruit potential donors. The initial search results showed that I only had 3 potential donor matches worldwide, and they would all require further testing to see if any of them were viable.

On the second day of my second round of Chemotherapy, I got two amazing presents that will stay with me forever….Identical twin baby girls and the news that I had a Stem Cell donor match!

December 2016, I went to a specialised hospital unit for five weeks. I received the final preparatory doses of Chemo and Irradiation, before receiving my life saving Stem Cell transplant.

Due to the Chromosomal abnormality, it really was my only chance to live and see my little girls grow up. At the start, we didn’t even know if I’d live long enough to meet them.

My Donor was a DKMS volunteer from Germany, who I have never met. This young guy selflessly saved my life. I’ll never be able to thank him enough for what he has given my family and I.

Every 20 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. This diagnosis is devastating, and during the corona virus outbreak, it is even more crucial that we do all we can to offer hope to people with blood cancer and blood disorders. We have seen the numbers of people joining the blood stem cell register decline dramatically in recent times, and now, more than ever before, we need you to sign up. For many, a blood stem cell donation is their best chance of recovery and only 30% of people find a match within their family. This means the remainder will need to find an anonymous blood stem cell donor, and that could be you.

Information about registration

Registering as a blood stem cell donor is easy, simply check your eligibility and request your home swab kit. Once you receive the kit, you will need to swab the inside of your cheek, following the instructions on the pack, before sending them back to us. Once we receive your swabs, they are processed in our lab to determine you tissue typing. Your typing is then stored, in an anonymised form, on the global database. This means you can be identified as a match for anyone in the world

A note about Coronavirus

We understand there are lots of worries and concerns around coronavirus and would like to reassure you that it is completely safe to request and send in your swabs.

If you're a match

If you are identified as a match, you will donate in one of two ways. In the majority of cases this is via a process called “Peripheral Blood Stem Cell collection”, which is a little like giving blood. In 10% of cases, the stem cells are taken from your bone marrow, under general anaesthetic. The method of donation is chosen by the patients team based on what is most suitable for them.

Together we will beat blood cancer.

To register as a blood stem cell donor, you need to be between 17-55, in general good health and not registered with another donor centre. To check your eligibility and request your swab kit, follow the link below.

It costs us £40 to register a new donor on the UK stem cell registry. As a charity, we rely on monetary donations from the public to help cover this cost and greatly appreciate any contribution, no matter how big or small.

If you are unable to register as a potential donor, we would be very grateful if you could consider making a contribution towards the cost of a registration.

Meet the team!

Christine's Story

Christine heard about DKMS whilst donating blood, previously having thought as she was over 30 she was too old to register, Christine was thrilled to learn she could register with DKMS. “I heard about the DKMS register and I signed up that same day”.

Fast forward 2 years and the mum of two got the call every donor wants to get, she was a match for someone in need.

“From the initial blood tests arranged by DKMS to the medical in London, the staff were so helpful, friendly and kept me fully informed.”

Christine donated via the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell collection (PBSC) method. “I was pleased to have my hands free during the donation and apart from being a strange sensation it wasn’t uncomfortable” says Christine.

“The nurses at the clinic were truly amazing and could not do enough for me and I was delighted to find out that they collected more than they needed in the one day”

“I was given some information on my patient he was a male in his 20’s and that my stem cells would be catching a flight over to USA to help him. The whole experience was very humbling as everyone showed me such kindness and gratitude, I would have no hesitation in doing it all again if anyone needed my stem cells in the future”

Fran's Story

Two years ago 38 year old Fran signed up to the DKMS stem cell register after seeing a link asking people to sign up on Facebook.

Only a month after sending her swab kit back Fran was told she was a potential match for someone. “It was such an incredible feeling” says Fran.

“They asked me to come to London for a full medical to make sure I was good to go ahead with it. For me this was probably the most nerve wracking part of the whole experience, I would have been so disappointed if I hadn’t been able to do it.”

Thankfully Fran was confirmed as being able to go ahead with the donation and being a stranger’s perfect match. “I kept imagining that the moment I was getting that call, the patient was being told that there was a match for them”.

“I was told it would be the peripheral stem cell donation method. Your blood is taken from one arm, to a centrifuge which separates the stem cells out and then the blood goes back into the other arm.”

“It was a really quick 4 hours in the bed, I was made so comfortable and had a lovely lunch during the process. The staff were amazingly attentive.”

“I would encourage anyone who feels able to sign up, the amount of untapped potential life savers just walking around, oblivious to the fact that this is a thing they could do is staggering. I feel so lucky to have been called upon so quickly and that I’ve been able to give someone a second chance at life.”

Lorna's Story

Lorna signed up after reading a post on Facebook about a friend who had donated. Lorna signed up in October 2018, “they sent me a swab kit, I swabbed inside my mouth and popped it back in the post to them”. Just four months later and Lorna got a call whilst on holiday saying she was a potential match for someone.

Once back from her holiday Lorna completed some blood tests and an online medical questionnaire. Following that she went to London for pre-procedure checks to make sure she was in good health and had no underlying conditions that would affect her donation.

Lorna donated via the PBSC method, “my recipient required a target cell count of 5 million, my 300ml donation yielded 42.73 million”

“7 months later I received another letter from DKMS, this one updating me that my recipient had made such an improvement they had been discharged from the clinic and was able to return to pre transplant activities. This letter was shortly after followed by a thankyou from my recipient.”

“This journey has had a few tears along the way but seeing that wee discoloured bag hanging attached to me brought only tears of achievement and hope for some kind of future for the recipient.”

“I now feel privileged to call myself a Stem Cell Donor.”

Get involved with DKMS Scotland Hub

The DKMS Scotland hub is based in Glasgow and aims to raise awareness in Scotland by holding donor drives. To get involved, email them or you can see what they're up to on their social media channels.