18 July 2017
Almost four years after registering as a potential blood stem cell donor, Tom was identified as a matching donor for someone in need and went on to give them a second chance of life. It all started with…
“I first heard of DKMS and blood stem cell donation in 2013 when there was a social media campaign to help a very young girl called Margot find a match. She was such a cute child and the story of her and her family really touched me. I'd see almost daily updates on Twitter and I registered just to see if I could help her. Unfortunately and tragically things did not work out for Margot, but if it wasn't for that brave little girl I wouldn't have registered or donated. I hope her family can take something from that, that her journey inspired me and has helped potentially save a life.
When I was told I was a match for someone in need, I was initially a little bit scared. It came out of the blue and I hadn't quite expected that letter to be there when I got back from a holiday. After reading and re-reading things and talking through it with Erin, my girlfriend, I definitely felt a lot more comfortable with the process and I was more than happy to get things going.
Prior to the donation I had a nurse visit me for four days and give me two injections of a synthetic drug to stimulate my bone marrow activity. After this course of injections I travelled to a hospital for the actual donation which took around 4 hours. You have a needle in one arm to draw the blood which goes through a machine, separates the stem cells and returns the rest of your blood into your other arm. I found it pain free and was able to play 4 hours of Football Manager from the comfort of a hospital bed.
Immediately after donating I felt fine, just like normal to be honest. The next day I woke up a little tired, but no more than normal. I'd say it took me about a week to shake that slight feeling of being tired and have that extra bounce in my step again. Two days after the donation I found out some information about who it was going to and that's when it first felt real. You start to imagine what their lives are like and what they could be like if things went well. I think about it everyday and just pray that the treatment has worked and this person has a chance to spend more time with their family. That's all that matters to me.
My donation is potentially a second chance of life for someone. It's tough to describe it, but I actually feel like I've done something worthwhile. I just wanted to be able to help somebody. I'd go through it all again in a heartbeat, without a doubt. For me it was personal, I have had so many family members suffer with cancer so I wanted to help someone in their fight against it. I'd stress to anyone to register, because that feeling of donating, you just can't get that anywhere else.”
We are very grateful to Tom for giving someone a second chance of life and for sharing his donor story with us.
Have you been inspired by his 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 or help us cover donor registration costs?