Our reporter to become life-saving bone marrow donor
Bolton News reporter Liam Thorp will be travelling to Sheffield to donate bone marrow to a patient who is in desperate need of a transplant. Liam explains how he arrived at this point.
BEFORE I begin, I am anxious to point out that I am not writing this article to get any recognition for what I will be doing — I just want to explain to people how my chance to potentially help another person came about and maybe inspire someone else to take the first steps towards becoming a donor.
It has been a convoluted journey up to this point, a journey that started last January when my elder sister Catherine came round to my house.
She began to tell me about a campaign that was running to help a friend of one of her work colleagues, a 21-year-old man called Martin Solomon.
Martin was battling stage four 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and needed a lifesaving transplant, so the next thing I knew, my sister, her husband Tom and I were in the car heading to a medical centre in Manchester to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register.
I still maintain that I only initially agreed to go along to the centre to give my ears a rest from my sister’s chatter.
Anthony Nolan is a national charity that works in the areas of leukaemia and stem cell transplantation and it is always looking to recruit donors to its register — we simply had to spit into a test tube and that was it, we were on the register.
It transpired that none of us were a match for Martin, in fact no one was, but thanks to an American drug trial, he is now in remission, which is brilliant news.
At this point we need to fast forward seven months when, walking into work in Bolton, I received a call from a number I didn’t recognise.
When I answered and the friendly voice on the other end said they were from Anthony Nolan, it didn’t take long for me to figure out what was going on, despite the fact I was still half asleep.
There are two methods of harvesting stem cells, the first, which 90 per cent of people chose, is known as apheresis and sees the donor’s blood withdrawn through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that removes the white blood cells before returning the red blood cells to the body.
The second option is a bone marrow transplant where a large needle is inserted into the centre of the pelvis in order to extract the vital bone marrow.
I don’t know very much about the person I will be donating to, just that it as a young boy under the age of 16 and that doctors would not be considering a transplant of this nature if all other avenues had not been explored.
So I have now had all the necessary tests and am cleared to go ahead with the operation next week.
I am under no illusion that a large needle inserted into my hip bone could leave me in some discomfort, but I am pretty sure that the feeling of potentially helping another human to stay alive will easily sooth that soreness.
- Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential bone marrow donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant.
- The register was set up in 1974 by the mother of Anthony Nolan, a young boy with a rare blood disorder, who died at the age of eight.
- Since the register was set up, Anthony Nolan has made more than 10,000 transplants happen.
- Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK finds out they have blood cancer.
- Around 1,800 people in the UK in need of a bone marrow transplant every year. This is usually their last chance.
- Seventy per cent of patients will not find a matching donor in their families. They turn to Anthony Nolan to find them an unrelated donor.
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