Kevin Davies was convinced he had missed his chance to become a potential blood stem cell donor. He tells us his story.
I first heard about DKMS stem cell donation while attending concerts by my lifelong friend Mike Peters, cancer survivor and singer of the band The Alarm.
In 2007, Mike Peters co-founded the U.K./USA cancer foundation charity ‘Love Hope Strength’ which became affiliated to DKMS. The ‘Love Hope Strength’ volunteers carry out mouth swabbing at gigs of Mike Peters/The Alarm and music festivals worldwide to add potential donors to the donor database.
When I discovered DKMS I was nearing the cut off age of 55 for swabbing. As a result, I delayed involvement, feeling that there would be no chance of me ever being matched due to the time constraints.
On 14 May 2015, I went to a Mike Peters gig at The Deaf Institute, Manchester with my wife. At this point I was 55 years old and five months away from the cut off point. My wife was approached and swabbed by one of the volunteers who knew me and presumed I was already on the list. She convinced me that it was never too late, and I too was swabbed.
In June 2016 I received a phone call from DKMS informing me that I was a potential stem cell donor match for a leukaemia patient and sent for blood tests. I was found to be a 10/10 match - the best possible - and first choice donor for the patient who was a German adult male.
At the end of August 2016, I passed a medical and was cleared for donation. In October 2016, after a four-day course of injections to increase my production of stem cells, on my 56th birthday I headed off to a London hospital for the donation.
My donation took place over two days. The process involved being connected to a machine that took my blood from one arm and then, having harvested my stem cells from it, returned the remaining blood to me via my other arm. The process required me to remain still for a few hours while the process took place. The process was painless and at the end of each day I was up and still able to carry out normal routine.
After the process I returned home.
There were no side effects from the donation process and I was functioning normally after it.
I can say with confidence that knowing I have saved someone’s life is my life’s greatest achievement. I would strongly urge anyone considering registering as a potential stem cell donor to do it without any hesitation whatsoever.
This coming October 2022, my stem cell recipient will be celebrating six years of life that he may otherwise not have had. The icing on the cake is that we have arranged to meet for the first time in October 2022.