I wasn’t going to bother writing this really, but it’s a conclusion of sorts to the bone marrow donation journey I’ve been on (hopefully it’s a conclusion anyway), and since I documented most of it on here it makes sense to finish it off!
As January came and went that marked two years since I underwent the procedure, which is a potentially significant date.
On the two year anniversary – depending on the slightly differing rules between different countries agencies – is when there’s the opportunity to open communication channels between donor and recipient. I dropped an email to Anthony Nolan to see if there was any news on the young lad who’d been the recipient of my stem cells. Of course, I know next to nothing about him, but he does cross my mind quite frequently.
I’d partly been hoping for the opportunity to be put in touch with his family – I’m a curious person, it would have been interesting to find out more about the person I was able to help. More importantly though, I did want to know whether the treatment had proven a success in defeating the blood-borne cancer he had been suffering from. A few email exchanges later and finding out more didn’t look very likely.
“I’m afraid the country whose register your cells matched have a zero contact policy”, the lady from Anthony Nolan wrote apologetically. “But I will request a health update” she added. So the primary mission was still viable, but there’s no opportunity for further information or further updates it seems.
However, a few days later when the letter in an Anthony Nolan envelope arrived it was still exciting – opening it revealed the same fairly straight-to-the-point language as the last one I received about a year and a half ago. The upshot is that the boy is still very much alive, and they went as far as to say doing well. Which is, frankly, the best news ever. On a selfish note I’d have liked to have found out more, but it wasn’t to be – and the most important information is there in that letter.
It was implied in the wording of the letter that this was the final update I’d receive – but I take heart that the recovery rate in youngsters from diseases like Leukaemia and Lymphoma is good if caught early and a suitable donor is found. The only likely follow-up information I’ll receive now is if I’m required to donate again for him – which obviously I hope that I am not.
In a year so far that has been fairly unprecidently dreadful for my family so far it’s nice to have some really positive news to reflect on. Out there somewhere in the world is a lad who has another shot at a future thanks to the wonder of science and a fluke of stem cell matching – it would’ve been nice to put a name to him, to know where he was growing up – but alas that wasn’t to be.
Despite that mild selfish disappointment I have no regrets whatsoever about undergoing the operation – it feels amazing to know that there’s someone out there who’s been able to best a disease that causes families so much misery simply down to something that was extracted from my body. If you haven’t already, and you’re eligible, please consider signing up either with Anthony Nolan (if 18-30), or Delete Blood Cancer (if older).