Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Being that 1 in a Million

My boyfriend once said to me “You’re one in a million but there are 10 billion people in the world” nice huh?! Well if you have leukaemia or another blood related disorder then you might be looking for that 1 in a million for a much more serious reason. A stem cell transplant is often the last hope for someone suffering from this type of disease.

30% of matches are found within the family but that still leaves 70% still looking for a match. When a match cannot be found within the family hospitals turn to stem cell registers like that of the Anthony Nolan Trust, which is the largest and most successful stem cell register in the UK. Currently there are 400,000 on the register but the sad reality is that for every person that is helped there is another that they can not find a match for. It is for this reason that I have decided to join the register.

Joining is simple. You fill in an online application and they send you a pack to your house. The pack contains a medical questionnaire and a saliva kit. All you have to do is fill in the questionnaire, spit in the tube and send it back, simples! So literally you could be saving a life by spitting. I have just filled in my online form and I should get my application in a few days.

When most people are asked why they don’t join the register they say “I’m scared of needles!” If you are matched with someone you become their chance at survival, surely when faced with that reality being scared of a needle is nothing in comparison. Personally my own reason for delay was that before the system was quite complicated with blood samples having to be sent off but now as I’ve said it’s much simpler. I'm a pretty lazy person so the simpler the better!

I know that there are lots of myths around donating mostly from TV so it is widely misunderstood. Firstly there are two ways to donate: peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation or a bone marrow harvest. Most health conditions respond well to PBSC with only a few needing a bone marrow harvest.

Is it painful? Well for those donating through PBSC many will have flu like symptoms lasting roughly about 24 hours and for those donating through a bone marrow harvest there will be some lower back pain for a short time afterwards. However your pain is minimal and again you that one person in a million giving hope to another. Surely it's worth it?!

The Anthony Nolan Trust has three main aims:

To grow the register to 1 million donors
To meet 80% of transplant requests
To bank 15, 000 umbilical cord blood units

You can help by joining the register. Its really simple if there are more people on the register, more matches will be made giving hope to people every day. We all strive to make a difference in life this is one way to achieve that aim. I'm doing my part what about you?

To find out more about The Anthony Nolan Trust visit their website

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