“I joined the UK stem cell register in 2005, through ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) whilst at Notting Hill Carnival.
I was approached by an ACLT volunteer whilst I was standing around soaking in the carnival atmosphere. They asked me if I wanted to join the stem cell register (back then it was referred to as the bone marrow register). I hadn’t previously been aware such a register existed; however once I heard the volunteer speak on the woefully low numbers represented on the register for individuals of ethnic origin, it made perfect sense for me to be involved. I signed up on the spot.
Fast forward to 2007 I was contacted and informed I had come up as a match for someone. I felt so happy to know that I would be doing something so amazing. I would be saving the life of someone in need. It really was a no brainer.
In the lead up to me donating I was provided with information about the two ways in which I could donate my stem cells, the preparation involved, what happens on the day of donation and the recovery period for both options. I was then given the opportunity to decide which option I preferred to proceed with.
I decided to donate via Peripheral Blood Stem Cell donation, which is very similar to giving blood. Prior to my donation day I was given injections to stimulate the production of the blood stem cells.
In October I went ahead with the donation which mostly involved me lying down for 5 hours whilst I had my blood filtered. I had some minor side effects; I felt dizzy and weak however the upside was emotionally, I felt fantastic! I had completed my donation journey. Someone out there was going to receive a second chance by receiving my donation.
A few years after my donation I decided to become a volunteer for ACLT as my experience as a lifesaving donor was a wakeup call to me to support an organisation like them, in return for the support they provide to my community. Additionally my donation had me thinking about the many patients who were still in need, waiting for an unrelated stem cell matched donor to be found. I wanted to use my positive experience to encourage others to follow in my footsteps.”
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.