“It’s an opportunity to possibly save a life. It made me feel joyful; you will feel so much joy if you get that chance too.”
Joe loves outdoor activities – getting out cycling, camping, running and keeping fit. He’s also passionate about encouraging more people from his community to register as potentially life-saving stem cell donors, even more so after recently becoming a donor himself.
“I registered with DKMS as a potential donor back in 2017, after a friend and colleague of mine in the Royal Navy needed a stem cell transplant. He is from St Vincent, and he needed a specific genetic match with someone from a Caribbean background. I’m from Trinidad and Tobago, and I wanted to help.
“We don’t have enough people from our community registered, but it is giving someone a chance of living, of getting better. So, I organised a series of events at Royal Navy bases across the UK to encourage more colleagues to join the DKMS stem cell register. I was really happy that over 1,000 signed up - if I can play a part, then I want to help all I can. Thankfully, my friend found a match, and he is much better today.
“This summer, I was working at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. I do supply logistics for the Navy and I was busy supporting musicians from Trinidad and Tobago. I got a call from DKMS to say that I was potentially a match for someone needing a transplant.
“For me, it’s something you have to act upon, if you get called and asked if you will be a donor. I thought, ‘Let’s get it done!’”
At the start of the donation process, Joe first went for medical checks at Scotland’s new stem cell collection centre, launched in August by DKMS and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.
“DKMS’ medical team had explained everything. Once everything was OK to go ahead, and I went in to donate, the nursing staff were amazing.
“In our community, there can be a lot of stigma around going into hospital for anything. If you come from a Caribbean background, people can fear that you will go into hospital and not come out, and historically there can be fears that procedures will be done and not properly followed up. We need to break down these sorts of barriers and I think it’s really good for people from my community to see someone like me complete the process of registering as a donor and stem cell donation.
“I was able to give someone a possible second chance. I know now that the patient who had my stem cells transplanted was a little boy. This is made me feel humbled and honoured to have the opportunity to do my little part in this ever-changing society. Hopefully, my experience will encourage others to step up and get registered.”
People from minority ethnic backgrounds currently only have a 37% chance of finding a stem cell match, whereas people from a Northern European background have a 72% chance.
DKMS is committed to working with heroes like Joe to change this. Find out more about how you could give someone a second chance at life by becoming a donor.