Well, that’s not strictly true. I still do, but this is more important.
Over 37,000 people worldwide need a Bone Marrow Transplant. But first, they need to find a matching donor.
On average, only half of those seeking a matching donor will ever find one. The odds of success fall to just 21% if the patient has an ethnic or mixed heritage.
It needn’t be this way. You can help! You can save a life. Please register as a potential stem cell / bone marrow donor.
This is Margot’s story.
In the blood
Many types are curable, and survival is at an all-time high. But the treatment is no walk in the park: many people will need chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. But some will need high-dose, aggressive chemotherapy, designed to obliterate their immune system – including the rogue cells driving the cancer.
This harsh treatment creates a new challenge. Our immune system is absolutely essential. So to regrow it, patients need a ‘stem cell’ donation. Stem cells are found in our blood, and, although rare, they have almost magical properties – they can regrow an entire functioning immune system in a matter of weeks.
Sometimes they can be donated by a close family member. But more often than not, even family members can’t help – there’s only a one in four chance of a match with relatives.
So as a last resort, doctors can turn to a unique resource that’s been slowly building over decades – the UK Stem Cell Registry.
And because of the work of an organisation called the World Marrow Donor Association, the UK’s registry is linked into an international network of registries, allowing doctors in the UK to search information from more than 25 million people worldwide.
And it’s this network of registries – and the people who donate their blood stem cells to it – that’s helping more and more people to beat their cancer.
Charities like Team Margot, Delete Blood Cancer UK and Anthony Nolan run schemes to allow members of the public, like me – and you – to send a sample of their cells – collected via a cheek swab (or saliva sample, in the case of Anthony Nolan) – to register.
The cells are extracted, analysed, and data about particular molecules on their surface – called HLA proteins – recorded into a database anonymously.
And if the HLA proteins subsequently prove to match those of someone diagnosed with cancer, it can end up saving their lives.
It was really easy to sign up to the register. You enter your details on the website and you’re sent a sample pack.
The pack contains what looks like a long cotton wool bud, which you rub over the inside of your cheeks, pop in an envelope, and send away for analysis.
It only takes a few seconds.
To raise awareness and funds which will help Team Margot continue campaigning for people to join the worldwide registers as potential bone marrow/stem cell donors, especially people from ethnic minorities or those with a mixed heritage, I am jumping out of a plane from 15,000ft tomorrow. In 4 weeks, I’m holding a raffle with awesome prizes, followed by a 10k race, 8 days of volunteering in Africa, a half marathon and a fire walk. None of this will be easy for me. Every single challenge will be dammed hard.
How can you help?
Please. Register, Swab, Save a Life. Then encourage “Just One More” to do the same. Thank you.
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