10th anniversary

'Don’t Know Much Science (but science saved my life)'

On 16 February 2023, Ivor met his donor, Mark for the very first time.


Ivor Godfrey-Davies, patient

'DKMS 10 years in the UK' logo white on red background
Ivor Godfrey-Davies, patient

Location: Lives in Hampshire.

Occupation: Retired.

What amusing or interesting phrase do you think the initials DKMS could stand for in English?: Don’t Know Much Science (but science saved my life) or Donor Kept Me Surviving.

How my life changed

I was diagnosed through a routine annual health check at work which was part of my employer’s benefits package. I had experienced no symptoms, other than extreme tiredness which I had ascribed to a high workload in the office and extensive foreign business travel.

Within the space of a few hours, I went from planning a year’s work and leisure activities, which were mainly centred on London, to facing extended periods of isolation in hospital in Southampton. I compensated as best I could to stay in touch with my ‘old’ life by continuing to work remotely from the hospital when I wasn’t too debilitated by the chemotherapy.

I had mixed feelings, mostly about the unknown immediate and long-term future, and I missed the companionship of colleagues and friends and the day-to-day involvement in working life. Looking back, I didn’t dwell much on the treatment, uncomfortable although it frequently was, because I believed implicitly that the medical staff would do whatever was humanly possible to bring about my recovery.

Ivor with DKMS UK Head of Fundraising Caroline Richardson

Finding my donor

I had been told by a consultant that because of 'something exotic in my family’s history', (I still don’t know what that was), it was proving difficult to find a matching donor. So I was surprised and delighted when, just a few weeks later, another consultant told me that not only had one 9-10ths match been found, but two – one in the UK and the other in Germany.

Celebrating 10 years working in the UK!
Meet the patients, donors and key supporters helping us mark our special year

Transplant and further treatment

The transplant itself went successfully, but I encountered subsequent problems with GvHD and then two bouts of haemolytic anaemia, a year apart, which necessitated more hospital stays, more chemotherapy and multiple blood transfusions.

Discovering my donor's identity

I was allowed to know nothing at the time of my transplant, other than my donor was a man and that he was from the UK.

It took seven years from the transplant before I discovered the identity of my donor, Mark. Attempts by us to get in touch earlier under the anonymity rules weren’t successful. But in the end a letter from Mark, still sent anonymously, reached me. By that time I had resigned myself to never knowing who had saved my life so I was overwhelmed by the surprise, excited and relieved. I had always wanted to have the opportunity to thank him in person. I am so much looking forward to doing so.

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What DKMS means to me

I regret to say that I was unaware of DKMS until Mark and I were able to exchange identities, and it was confirmed that he was on the DKMS register.

Though I have been a volunteer supporting the fight against blood cancer for the past five years or so, I am only now beginning to form a relationship with DKMS. I hope to be able to be of assistance in future to DKMS also.

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Ideas for encouraging more stem cell donors

I would encourage as many people as possible to raise awareness through promotional events, personal story telling and networking. I will share my story with as many people as I can and encourage people to sign up as a blood stem cell donor.

stem cells
Find out more: blood stem cell transplants and donating blood stem cells
10th anniversary news