Liam’s journey could save young boy’s life
Bolton News reporter Liam Thorp travelled to Sheffield to undergo surgery in order to donate bone marrow for a sick youngster — here he describes his experiences.
SOME readers may have noted my piece in The Bolton News, which explained what had led me to sign up for the Anthony Nolan donor register and how I was feeling ahead of an operation to remove bone marrow from my pelvic bone to donate to someone in desperate need of it.
I was first tested early last year, after my sister told me about a work colleague who needed a lifesaving bone marrow transplant as he was battling stage four 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Seven months later I received a call telling me I was a match for another recipient and just before Christmas, following several medical checks, I was admitted for my surgery.
Well, I am pleased to say that everything went smoothly after my surgery and I am recovering well.
My less helpful friends had teased me about the unimaginable pain I would feel after the op — but that has not been the case.
I have been on painkillers but I would compare the sensation to having a pulled muscle in my lower back, which has eased with every passing day.
Probably the most powerful effect has been an overwhelming lethargy that has left me rooted to the sofa in front of the television and echoing scenes from my hazy student years.
The doctors had told me to expect to feel run down as my body reacts to losing a litre of bone marrow, and I have been more than happy to allow friends and family to wait on me hand and foot — let’s be honest I’ll never have a better excuse.
The staff at the Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital, where my bone marrow harvest was carried out, were nothing short of exceptional — the doctors, the nurses, even the cleaners made me feel incredibly comfortable and ensured that my experience was a totally positive one.
And I have also been overwhelmed by the support I have received from family, friends and colleagues. I went into hospital the afternoon before to get comfortable, with the operation set for the following day at 7am.
I was delighted when the doctor came to explain everything to me and even more delighted when he said I could head out to a local pub to watch the football that evening.
My mum had travelled with me and the charity arranged for her to stay in a nearby hotel, I may be a 25-year-old man but I have no problem in admitting the comfort that was drawn from having my mum by my side during the process. All I know about the recipient of my bone marrow is that it is a boy under 16 and that this transplant will represent his last chance of survival, a notion that has remained with me throughout the process.
I wasn’t especially nervous in the build-up but I awoke at about 5am in an eerily silent hospital.
The rest is a bit of a blur, largely due to the anaesthetic I was given. The operation lasted an hour and while I was unconscious, four large needles were inserted into the centre of my pelvic bone through the small of my back and syringes of my bone marrow were withdrawn.
In no time I was back in my room, tucking into snacks and watching television.
I remained in hospital for the next 24 hours and was visited by a volunteer from the charity who explained that my bone marrow was already en route to the recipient, beginning a crucial period for the young boy that I pray will be a successful one.
The charity could connect me with the family if things have gone well but in the meantime I will rest safe in the knowledge that by donating my bone marrow, that boy will have been given a fighting chance.
It was a strange sequence of events that led me to sign up and I never thought I would be a match, but it is something I am immensely proud of and I would implore others to sign up to see if they too could find potentially save a life.
For more information about Anthony Nolan, visit anthonynolan.org l Friends’ kidney transplant operation: Page 6
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