Ula's incredible blood stem cell donation story

22 August 2017

It was only eight months after she registered as a potential blood stem cell donor that Ula donated some of her blood stem cells to someone in need. Here, she tells her amazing story…

“My name is Ula, I’m 30 and this is my story about the most amazing experience of my life!

Ula donating her blood stem cells

I’ve been donating blood for years now but I’ve always been on the lookout for other things I can do to help another person. Back in September last year I heard about DKMS from a friend from a baby group on Facebook. She is campaigning for blood stem cell donations, as she needed one in the past. She created an event on Facebook inviting people to donate to help her repay the debt. That’s where I learned about DKMS.

Laura posted about signing up to help others and that’s all I needed to hear. A few minutes later I was registered and waiting for my swab kit. After I sent the swabs back I was hoping that a few years down the line I will be a match for someone. Little did I know what will follow just a couple of months later…

From the moment I received my letter about my placement on the register, it took only a couple of months to receive a phone call about being one of a few people that might be a match for someone and if I still wanted to donate. Of course I did!

I went for blood tests at my local hospital and sent samples back to DKMS to determine if I would be the best match. It didn’t take long for them to ring me back with the amazing news that it will be me that they want to donate stem cells! I was so happy and excited!

The whole process was explained to me, starting from the full health check (x-ray, bloods, ECG), then the donation process, then the follow up blood check and news about the patient. Because it all happened in London all travel and accommodation was sorted by DKMS to make the long journey less stressful. I went for the health check and was given the go ahead for stem cell donation. I was so happy that everything was going right!

Unfortunately a day before I was supposed to start injections to build up my supply of stem cells I received a phone call that the patient was not well enough to receive a donation and it had to be postponed. I was upset and really worried. I couldn’t stop thinking about how the patient is doing and if I will get a chance to help. Luckily, soon enough my donation was booked again and I started to count the days!

Three days before my donation I started the injections. They were done by lovely nurses that come to your house/work and try to make the whole process as easy and hassle free as possible. The only side effects were little aches and pains, but compared to my bad back I’ve lived with for years now, it was nothing!

Then donation day arrived! I set off on the train excited that very soon I will be helping someone. I arrived at the clinic and few little needle pricks later I was all set and could relax.

Ula donating her blood stem cells

The whole process took about four to five hours and the clinic staff made sure I was doing well and I didn’t need anything. But who could complain at chilling in bed for few hours? I asked a lot of questions about the donation and the machine and lovely nurses answered them all. I also found out that the recipient is from the Czech Republic.

Ula donating her blood stem cells

They didn’t manage to get enough stem cells on the first day so I had to come back for a second day of donation. It didn’t go as easy as the day before because my veins refused to be pricked again, but it wasn’t a problem for the amazing nurses and very soon I was donating again!

Ula donating her blood stem cells

This time they took the amount that was needed and I was soon on my way home, proud that I’ve given someone a second chance of life. When I arrived at the train station for my return journey it turned out that there was a small fire on the track and there were no trains that I could get home on. But thanks to Leo’s help at DKMS, my night stay was sorted so I could get a train the next morning. But I didn’t stop worrying. I knew that until I heard from them that the recipient is doing well I wouldn’t be able to relax.

And then that day arrived. When I saw the envelope from DKMS my heart stopped. I opened it with shaking hands.

It was all good news! I couldn’t believe it! I’ve helped someone, I’ve saved a life! I really hope the recipient will recover fully and that we will be able to meet one day! We are allowed to write one letter to them so I decided to wait till I find out if the treatment is working. Now I can write to them and explain how happy and relieved I am about all this.

It was only eight months after finding out about stem cell donation that I was actually given a chance to donate. I know it can take years to find the right match and I am grateful that I was able to do it so quickly!

I want to thank Laura for telling me all about stem cell donation and my husband and Miv for supporting me all the way and reassuring me that there will be a happy ending. I really hope I will be a match for someone else too and that I will be able to do this amazing thing again!”

Thanks to Ula for sharing her amazing donor story!

If you’re feeling inspired and would like to register, you can check your eligibility and register as a potential blood stem cell donor today. Anyone aged between 17-55 and in general good health can go on standby to save a life.

If you are not eligible or are already registered, why not check the other ways to get involved in the fight against blood cancer or help us cover donor registration costs?