Will donated his stem cells to potentially save someone’s life. He’s shared his story to bust myths about donating and encourage more people to register.
Before I started volunteering with Marrow, I’d signed up to join the stem cell register at one of their events. A couple of years later I got a call to say I was a potential match! I ended up donating my stem cells twice.
From my own experience, and from chatting to people through Marrow, I know there are a lot of myths about stem cell donation. So, from someone who’s donated, let me tell you why donating isn’t scary…
Anthony Nolan covered all the costs – even paying me for my two days off work.
I was working full time and was worried about how I would be able to take the two days off, one for the medical assessment and one for the donation day.
My employer was very supportive and was more than happy for me to take two days of unpaid leave, and Anthony Nolan reimbursed me for the salary lost.
Nurses visited me at work and at home, to prepare me for donation
The medical examination is straightforward and takes about three hours. After the medical, they confirmed that I was okay to donate. For four days prior to donating, you have a series of injections that will help your body release stem cells from your bone marrow into your bloodstream. The nurses visited me at work and at home, so it doesn’t inconvenience you at all.
Apart from an aching back, I didn’t experience any side effects and was playing football the night before my donation!
The hospital felt more like a hotel
I went to London for the donation. Anthony Nolan organises and pays for all of your transport and accommodation. There was nothing intrusive and everyone was really professional.
The actual donation day started at about 08:30 at a private hospital in Regent’s Park, which is more like a hotel than a hospital! You arrive and are shown to your bed, where you’ll have some blood samples taken and some checks. Once you’re ready, a needle is inserted into each arm, one of which you are able to freely move and one that must stay still to ensure the blood can flow out freely and deposit the stem cells.
Painful? Not at all
The blood leaves your static arm and gets spun in a high-tech machine that separates the stem cells, and then is returned into your other arm.
It can be slightly uncomfortable at times but is not at all painful. You can have your laptop set up, chat with fellow donors/nurses or watch TV, which makes the four hours fly by! The nurses are all really friendly and ensure you are always comfortable. Plus, you get to order lunch from an extensive menu!
After around four hours, the nurses disconnect you and you’re free to go!
You could save someone’s life – so what are you waiting for?
At the end of the day, surely this is all worth it when you know that it could potentially save someone’s life? Trust me – it’s an amazing feeling!
If you’re still unconvinced, read what other people said about donating: http://myths.anthonynolan.org/
Anthony Nolan finds lifesaving matches for three people with blood cancer every day. But there are still so many people who are still waiting, because there isn’t anyone on the register who’s a match. Who knows, it could be you!