Once upon a time there was a man called Mr MIP who had spit that matched quite well with someone elses………. it’s an odd story and that isn’t exactly right but it’s as good as any other start I suppose.
We registered with DKMS – Delete Blood Cancer in 2013 after seeing an appeal for people to sign up to help a little girl looking for a match as she had leukemia. We were sent our packs that included an “About Me” type form and a cotton bud to wipe around our mouths. Easy peasy. So we sent the forms off and didn’t think anything else of it apart from calling them to let them know we’d moved house in 2014.
Until last year (2016) when we got a letter through the post last year saying that Mr MIP might be a match for someone. The letter contained lots of brilliant information about the process, selection and the actual donation itself.
First up he had to go for a blood test call Confirmatory Typing (CT) to rule out any infectious diseases or other blood based nasties that he wouldn’t want to pass onto anyone else which all came back clear. The results were then sent onto the patient’s doctor along with two other close matches for them to decide which set of cells would be the most suitable. That part of the process took a few months before we got the call to say Mr MIP was the best match and they’d be going ahead with the donation.
Before he could donate he needed to have a series of injections called Filgrastim which would increase the amount of blood stem cells in his body. He was warned that this was likely to be the most difficult part of the process for him personally and the bit that would come with the most discomfort. As the cells build up it’s common to feel a heavy feeling in your shoulders, chest plate and hips and also common to get insomnia.
Mr MIP was a total champ throughout the injection process – he did get that heavy feeling in his chest and the insomnia was pretty bad. He’s one of those people who falls asleep in a few seconds normally so the experience of just not being able to sleep was totally new to him. The thing is though – no matter how uncomfortable his joints felt and no matter how hard it was not to sleep for two nights it still wasn’t as bad as having leukemia so he didn’t feel like it was bad enough to say he wanted to quit!
Before we knew it donation day had rolled around and DKMS UK took care of everything. They made sure we had somewhere to stay, took care of all our travel and answered any other queries we had. Donations can take two days and they wanted us to have the option of an overnight stay – they also recommended having it even if the donation was done in a day as he’d likely to be tired.
He arrived, was shown to his bed and was able to make himself comfortable – donations can take up to 4-6 hours and are done via a very clever machine. A needle on one arm draws out your blood, it goes into this clever little gizmo and then is put back into your body minus the excess cells through a needle in your other arm. Mr MIP’s donation was a relatively straightforward process apart from a calcium dip at one point that made him very lightheaded but the medical team were straight on it and kept a really close eye on him.
You don’t really get to find anything out about the patient – all we know is that she’s in her 30’s and lives somewhere on Earth. That really resonated with me. At the time of donation I was 36 – that could have been me. It could easily be any of us.
After the donation life went back to normal pretty quickly – Mr MIP had some aches and pains as his body went back to it’s normal blood levels and he felt quite tired. He has always said he’d do it again without any hesitation – he describes the process as feeling like having the flu without actually having the flu.
I can’t even imagine what it feels like to save a life but I do know I’m immensely proud of him. We are still waiting to find out how the patient is – we’ve asked to know but the recipient isn’t obliged to tell us and that’s fine. We just hope she’s ok and well on the way to recovery – we have our fingers, eyes and toes crossed for you mystery lady.
It’s quick and easy to register to be a bone marrow and blood cell donor – you can visit DKMS-UK and answer a few questions and you can also register with Anthony Nolan Trust . If you find you can’t register with one then it’s worth trying the other as they have slightly different requirements.
You could be wandering around with a possible cure for blood cancer in your body. Just think about that for a second – you might have the cure for some types of cancer. Someone out there could be waiting for you to register – you just need to sign up, get your swab sent in and wait to see if you are holding the key to a possible miracle for someone.
Please register and if you find you are a match and have questions Mr MIP is more than happy to help – drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send your message on.
We’ll be going to back to the hospital tomorrow to do a secondary donation as the recipient needs some white blood cells from Mr MIP to help her continue to fight. This isn’t common but we do know that she is recovering and we sincerely hope that once again the recipient will get some good news this Christmas.