SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE: KAMISHA GUTHRIE – STEM CELL DONOR
My name is Dr. Kamisha Guthrie; I am 35 years of age and a Clinical Psychologist of Learning Disabilities. More importantly I donated stem cells (bone marrow) cells for an individual suffering with leukaemia and I am the first cousin of Daniel De-Gale, the spearhead of ACLT Charity.
I joined the stem cell register in 1997 during the Kiss FM v Choice FM ACLT charity fundraising football match that took place at Dulwich Hamlets Football Ground in South London. I joined the register via the ACLT, established by Aunty Bev and Uncle Orin, initially in the hope that I would be a match for Daniel. As our search for Daniel’s donor continued, I learned more and more about the difficulties facing leukaemia sufferers within the black and mixed race community who are in need of a bone marrow transplant.
In my heart, my worries for Daniel grew strong, but I never gave up hope. Although I was not a match for Daniel, I realised the importance of remaining on the register and possibly becoming the miracle for someone else that I had so long dreamt of for Daniel. The slogan for the ACLT was “By Any Means Necessary” and as I began to consider the meaning of this phrase and its depth, I quickly began to understand the importance of ‘give and take’, ‘share and share alike’ and ‘coming together as one’. More time passed and our miracle came. Her name is Doreene and she donated stem cells for Daniel in June 1999.
During this period I received a package from the Anthony Nolan requesting a blood sample as I had been found as a ‘partial match’ for someone. I provided the sample only to be told that I was not a sufficient match. I was also told that additional information obtained would be stored on file for future matching. About 12 months later I received a larger package requesting a larger blood sample. This time the letter attached explained that I was now at the final stage of matching for a sufferer. I gasped for breath, took myself to my GP, but said nothing to family members just in case. Eight weeks later I received a letter stating that I was indeed a perfect match and requested I call to confirm willingness to proceed. I was completely overwhelmed and dazed by disbelief, still no word to the family just in case it was a mistake. The next day I called the Anthony Nolan and it was confirmed. We discussed potential dates for donation and the procedures that would precede it. At this point I was in complete shock and began to pace up and down my hallway. I began to question the likelihood of such an occurrence and the message being conveyed by the powers that be. I felt invigorated and honoured to be the first in our family to give something back to our community as a way of saying thanks. I pondered on the recipient and their family and how their prayers had been answered. I telephoned Orin and Bev and told them to sit down. They had no idea and were completely speechless when I told them.
I went through an emotional rollercoaster ranging from sheer happiness to be able to help, to anger and disappointment that the recipient had to be a sufferer in the first place. Anthony Nolan supported me all the way. Following a brief period of anxiety and nervousness the day came and I was ecstatic and ready to donate more than ever.
The procedure went smoothly and support from family and friends was second to none.
I donated bone marrow cells from the hip area under general anaesthetic and I couldn’t believe how limited the discomfort was when I returned from theatre and found myself referring to my period pains and how they hurt more. The entire experience was absolutely mind-blowing and very difficult to put into words.
Imagine, the opportunity to offer the gift of life and to lose nothing?! I’d do it again tomorrow at a heartbeat! Hopefully, my story will get you to join the register TODAY!!
WE NEED MORE BLACK, ASIAN AND ETHNIC MINORITY PEOPLE TO JOIN THE STEM CELL REGISTER
When a Black, Asian or Mixed race person with blood cancer desperately needs a lifesaving transplant they have less than a 20% chance of finding the best possible match.
YOU can improve this by joining the stem cell register.