Today’s donor story is very special. Ray signed up to our bone marrow register at a special recruitment event in aid of Joey Ziadi – a little boy from Northampton who needs a transplant.
He was there that day as the mascot for Northampton Town Football Club and never expected to be asked to donate. Not only has he now gone on to become a stem cell donor, he’s also helping out at another Joey Ziadi recruitment event this weekend! Read more in our interview:
When did you join the register?
I signed up at the Race for Life event in Abingdon Park in Northampton because team ‘GIJoey’ were there signing people up for little Joey Ziadi.
Why did you join the register?
At the time I was the mascot for Northampton Town Football Club at charity events like this and I was asked to come over to their recruitment tent for a picture with Joey.
I spoke to Joey’s mum (Kaisha Morris) and she told me how easy it is to sign up the register and how the donation process works. Filling out a form and giving a bit of spit was the least I could do. It was a no-brainer and to be honest I didn’t think anything would come of it, but I thought it was better to be on the register and at least have that chance.
After you signed up – did you ever think you would be called up to donate?
On the day I just thought it’s better to be signed up than not be on the register & know I’m doing my bit and not sign up. I didn’t think I had a chance of being called up so I just forgot about it.
How did you find out you were a match for someone?
I got an email to say I could be a match and then I got a phone call later to confirm I was THE match, I was in hospital seeing my granddad at the time.
How did you feel when you were told you were a match?
When I found out I was a match I couldn’t speak, I just couldn’t believe I had this opportunity to save someone’s life. It only really sunk in through when a nurse from Anthony Nolan came round and told me I was this person’s lifeline, it really hit me then. It was such an emotional time, I felt fortunate to help someone.
How did you feel on donation day?
I was excited and nervous, it was a big thing for me. The nurses and everyone was brilliant (tony) helped me all the way through it and explained everything through.
How was your donation experience overall?
It was honestly pain free and I was so well looked after by the nurses. My mum and dad were there with me so it was a proud moment and they kept me entertained. This has all happened in a year so it’s been a bit of whirlwind. It’s like winning the lottery never think it will happen to you.
Do you ever think about your recipient?
I’ve not stopped thinking about the person who received my cells. I ended up donating 19 million cells for this person. I just keep on asking myself – where are they? What do they look like? What’s their family like? We don’t know each other but we are so linked, I don’t think it will click until I hopefully meet them one day.
Kaisha Morris and the GI Joey appeal (read Kaisha and Joey’s story here)
I’d like to say thank you to Kaisha Morris as she is the reason I’ve potentially saved a stranger’s life. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be on the register because I didn’t know about it. She’s working so hard to get a match for Joey and for everyone who needs a transplant. She is saving so many lives and should be so proud of all her campaign is achieving.
What would you say to anyone thinking of signing up to the register?
Not enough young people know about it, when they hear transplants – they get easily put off. It’s so easy to sign up, it’s all pain-free and you just can’t put a price on the experience and knowing that you have made a difference.
I just hope my recipient is ok and I hope to meet them one day. There must be thousands of young people out there who could be a match but they could just don’t know how easy it is. That’s why I want to help spread the word and get more people signed up.
Ray will be helping GIJoey sign up more potential lifesavers at the Race for Life event at Abingdon Park Sunday the 7th of June.
How you can help
If you’re aged 16-30 and in good general health, you can sign up to our bone marrow register with a simple spit sample, and one day you could be a potential lifesaver just like Ray. Just click on the button below to find out more.