Claire Waugh, Healthcare Assistant Coordinator, had always been a regular blood donor but decided to join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register when her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago.
She was identified as a potential match for someone needing lifesaving treatment and after rigorous testing and thorough medicals, was able to start the process of donation.
In September Claire was visited by nurses from blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, receiving three injections per day over three days to stimulate her bone marrow to produce stem cells. On the fourth day she travelled with her husband to King’s College Hospital in London to receive a final set of injections and undergo a stem cell collection in a simple five hour outpatient procedure, which is similar to giving blood. Nine out of ten stem cell donations are now done in this way.
Claire said: “My recipient has to remain anonymous; I know he’s male but he could be living anywhere in the world.”.
“I couldn’t move or bend my arm due to the fairly heavy duty needle, but I was looked after really well so in the end the time went very quickly.”
After the donation, Claire’s stem cells were taken straight to the recipient within the required 72 hours. It can several months to know how the patient is doing and whether her stem cells saved his life.
Claire said: “A volunteer from Anthony Nolan told me that if he doesn’t survive, there is nothing else on this earth that would have cured him, so this was this person’s last chance. When my dad was poorly it made me think that if he needed this kind of help, I would be praying every night that someone would help him. By doing this, it meant that I could give that chance to someone else and their family.”
Claire was granted special leave from RBH so she could make her donation and was supported throughout by Anthony Nolan who paid all her and her husband’s expenses.
She said: “It is such a unique match that is required that it is almost a chance in a million, but my experience shows it can happen. The more people that are on the register, the more that chance increases.
“I found it such a rewarding experience and I would certainly encourage other people to do the same.”
If you’re 16-30 and in good health, you can join the Anthony Nolan register at www.anthonynolan.org.