Meet Nyika, a blood stem cell donor living in the West Country, signed up as soon as she was eligible. She told us about her donation experience.
I signed up for the stem cell register as soon as I was old enough, mostly because I had attended blood donation appointments with my parents as a child.
Being someone who reads any leaflet put in front of her, I read a lot about the stem cell/bone marrow registers at these appointments, and how signing up could save a life.
I didn't expect to ever hear from DKMS, so I was very surprised in 2016 when I was contacted to say I was a potential match. After providing a blood sample taken at my local surgery, I was invited to a (very nice!) private hospital in London to have blood tests and a full health MOT to check I was healthy enough to donate. Fortunately, I was.
Just after Christmas that year I was visited four times by a nurse who gave me G-CSF injections to encourage my body to create as many stem cells as possible.
The injections did make my bones ache a bit, and I felt a little under the weather. However, the experience gave me an insight into what cancer patients, like the one I was donating to, have to go through as part of their treatment.
One day after New Year's Day, I travelled to London to stay in a lovely hotel for the night. The next day I attended the hospital again. I spent six hours hooked up to a machine that extracted my stem cells. During this time I could read and watch things on my iPad - it was quite relaxing!
As soon as the excess stem cells were taken I felt much better, and by the next day, I was up and about, and shopping on Oxford Street.
After my donation, I found out my stem cells had gone to a lady in the US with leukaemia, and that she was still living. It felt amazing to know a few days of my life had hopefully given someone another chance to live theirs.
To become a donor you just swab your cheeks and put the swabs in an envelope in the post. It's a small thing you can do but it could make an enormous difference to somebody.