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Braving Lockdown For Anthony Nolan
17 July 2020
The Anthony Nolan Charity saves the lives of people with blood-related cancers and disorders. However, they couldn’t do it without the help of people like my daughter Maddie, who along with thousands of others is on their register of stem cell donors. If you’re on the register, you have a 1 in 900 chance of being a match with someone desperately in need of a second chance at life.
On 20th April, Maddie found out she was a genetic match with someone in need of a bone marrow transplant via the register. She had the operation just three weeks later, right in the middle of Lockdown. She was not allowed to know much about the recipient of her bone marrow other than it was a three year old girl in America. Although it was obviously not an ideal time to be near any hospital Maddie was determined to go ahead. We were very anxious but incredibly proud of her for going through with it.
90% of donors on the register are asked to donate stem cells via a method no more complicated than giving blood – easy and not at all painful. The other 10% (including Maddie) are asked to donate via their bone marrow, which gets a lot of bad press and puts people off signing up to be on the register. It’s a procedure completed under general anesthetic where a needle is inserted into the pelvis to extract the marrow. Having come through the other side, Maddie insists it’s not a big deal – she was ridiculously well looked after in a private hospital just off Harley Street (her food was prepared by a Michelin starred chef!) and she managed the pain with nothing more than paracetamol. Anthony Nolan covered all her work costs for the time she was off work and she was back to normal in under a week. Her conclusion – it’s a very small price to pay to be giving someone a second chance at life.