Since January, the world has “stopped” for more than 420 people diagnosed with a blood disease. That’s the number of search requests our team have received as leukaemia and lymphoma continue to strike anyone, without warning.
The good news is that 40 of these searches identified a local donor but sadly more than 30% backed out at that stage. There are several reasons this happens – medical issues, pregnancy or a moment of misplaced altruism so therefore a change of mind. Needless to say it’s frustrating but worse than that, it’s knowing that a life is at stake.
This is one of the reasons we work so hard to stay connected and try to bring stories to life about lives saved and families kept together through this simple act of courage and friendship.
A few days ago I was privileged to meet up with one of our patients – a father, husband and a hero to my mind. He wanted very much to share his story about the search for a match and how he felt that day knowing that an uncertain future lay ahead with a transplant scheduled for a few days’ time. He shared his fears that he would not live to see his two children, age six and four grow up, and wondered what legacy and memory he would leave for them.
While it was hard not to reflect on his very real concerns, it was also a time to reiterate the reason the BMDP was set up – to find a match for every patient and to offer that one last chance of survival. The rest will be up to him and his doctors, and from a distance it is a journey that we will all share. So next time you meet someone who is a bone marrow donor – or perhaps look in the mirror and see one looking back at you, remind them and yourself what a great thing they have signed up to do.
We are sad to share that Desmond did not make it through his transplant journey and passed away in early 2016. We salute him for his bravery and commitment in sharing his story and he continues to be an inspiration to us all.