“THANKS TO FACEBOOK – I HELPED SAVE A LIFE”

1 October 2018

In 2016 Lucy registered as a potential blood stem cell (PBSC) donor after seeing something on Facebook, which triggered her into taking action.

Lucy donated through peripheral blood stem cell donation, which is used in 90% of cases - where the blood is passed through a machine that isolates and collects stem cells.

Bone marrow collection, where bone marrow is extracted from the pelvic bone, is used for the other 10% of cases.

The 21-year-old is keen to share her story to encourage others to take that crucial first step in becoming a lifesaver in waiting.

A Friend in need

“I first heard about DKMS through a friend in 2016. Her brother was searching for a blood stem cell donor. My friend had registered  and received her home swab kit and she said that I should do it too.

“I went online to register – it was super easy and simple to register. It took minutes and I sent the swab kit back. The whole thing was really straightforward.

“At first I was a little naïve, whilst I had heard of blood cancer before, I didn’t really know the ins and outs. After researching and receiving communication from you  I understood more about blood cancer and the importance of blood stem cell donations.

“I felt that I had a moral obligation to sign up and felt that if I expected to receive a donation that it’s only fair that I signed up. I couldn’t see a reason why I shouldn’t do it.

The surreal phone call

“The chances of being selected as a possible match are incredibly slim. So it came as a huge shock to me when I received a call February [2018], just under two years after I originally registered.

“It just felt a bit surreal hearing I was a match because of the statistics of how few people get called up within the first ten years.

“After getting over the initial shock - I felt quite moved and emotional because there is another person who desperately needs your help. It’s quite something to be able to turn around and say you’ve potentially helped save someone life through a relatively selfless act. I felt special knowing I was that chosen person.

Feeling apprehensive

I ended up donating my  blood stem cells through a peripheral blood stem cell collection, but before this I had to undergo a number of different medical checks to ensure that I could go ahead.

“I felt a little apprehensive because when you hear people saying stem cells, you think of needles in your hips and horrible procedures.

“I wouldn’t say I had a phobia of needles but I was certainly worried about the experience. Ahead of the donation I was pretty nervous to be fair and had a mixture of feelings including excitement mixed with nerves. I can relate to people getting apprehensive and worried about donating, especially if you are scared of hospitals and needles. I may have had a little bit of a wobble but I just had to think about the person at the end of other end. Whilst I may be a little uncomfortable for a few days this could be a huge life-changing experience for them – so it was a no-brainer for me.

“There’s a couple of sharp scratches with needles but it’s all pretty straightforward and painless and the staff at the hospital look after you so well that I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.”

On a Mission to Encourage Others

“I’d tell others there isn’t a good enough reason not to do it. If you’d expect it for you and your family you’ve got to be willing to give back. It could be you that needs a matching donor, your best friend, your sister or your mum and you’d really want the person who is a match to say yes and go through with it.

There aren’t enough people of the registry and therefore too many people aren’t able to find their match. There are so many people who’d be eligible to do it and since donating I feel so strongly that I need to push the message out there and help raise awareness and encourage others to register.

How you can help

Anyone aged between 17-55 and in good general health can go on standby as a potential lifesaver by registering for a home swab kit. If you’d like to register as a potential blood stem cell donor you can check your eligibility and sign up today.

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. From hosting your own #LetsNailBloodCancer mani-pedicure party to volunteering, there are loads of ways you can get involved with DKMS.