SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE: HELEN ROBINSON – STEM CELL DONOR
It all started 18 years ago, watching TV – Daniel De Gale and his parents were on the Good Morning Britain (GMTV) sofa campaigning for ethnic minorities to come forward to join the stem cell (bone marrow) register to see if they could find a possible match for Daniel who desperately needed a bone marrow transplant.
I went along to a health mobile unit which had been set up by Daniel’s parents in a large car park at Tesco’s Superstore in Brixton. After I registered as a potential donor I went home and forgot all about it.
On 3rd May 2002 I received a phone call from the Anthony Nolan Trust informing me that I was a definite match for an individual in America, and would I be prepared to donate bone marrow, or rather in my case stem cells? Of course my immediate answer was ‘yes’. As I was donating stem cells the process involved me getting a series of injections over a course of days. Once the right amount of stem cells had been ‘made’ they would be ‘harvested’ during a procedure similar to dialysis.
An appointment was then made for a nurse to come to my house to administer the injections. I received an injection every day for the next 4 days, and on the 5th day I went into hospital to have the stem cells harvested.
I must say, the injections were ok, when the stem cells were growing there was a very mild discomfort, relieved by pain killers. The harvesting was painless, just a slight scratch when the needles went in. The procedure took approximately 4-5 hours, I was in the hospital for most of the day.
I received fantastic aftercare for the next 5 years, my Donor Co-ordinator was in constant touch
It had been quite a while since I thought about my donation, that is until I attended a show at the Hackney Empire on the 23rd May 2009. Orin Lewis, Beverley De-Gale and a team of ‘ACLT volunteers’ were there promoting ACLT and the good work they do. I wanted to introduce myself to let them know that it was their son Daniel that had inspired me all those years ago to become a donor.
Daniel started this for me all those years ago and now Orin has asked me to write my story, so in a funny way I’ve come full circle.
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.