Info on Donating & Stem Cells
This is what I have come to understand from a total layman's point of view so don't hold me too it but it gives you an idea. Please check all facts.
DO NOT READ THE NOLAN TRUST RULES AND THINK YOU CANNOT DONATE - THE NHS HAVE MUCH LESS RESTRICTIVE RULES AND YOU CAN DONATE MOST LIKELY. YES EVEN IF YOU ARE OVER 30.
BUT JUST THINKING ABOUT DOING IT DOESN'T HELP ANYONE!
ALL YOU DO IS GO AND DONATE BLOOD WITH THE NHS AND REQUEST TO JOIN THE BONE MARROW REGISTER. DONE.
Why do we need your stem cells and how are they used?
It depends on each case but basically with a cancer like this your own immune system doesn't recognise malign systems. Solution: totally kill your own immune system and using a donor's stem cells you replace your immune system with a copy of theirs. This new immune system hopefully works with your body and kills any cancerous cells that made it through the chemo and radiotherapy.
What happens when you sign up?
With the NHS, you give blood and sign a form. Then you are on a register. If a match appears you will be approached and asked to donate. With the Nolan just simply spit into a cup sent through the post and return it. They just need a little DNA to register you and the bigger stuff would come if you were ever called on.
If you donate what role do you play?
Well first-off to sign up you just fill out a form and you will be sent a pot to spit into to give them your DNA. From that point on you are on the register, and its most likely that you won't be asked to. If I am right, about 7.5K people have been asked to donate so far.
If you are called on to donate, you will initially be asked to go to a centre near you to have some further tests run to see how good a match you are. If you are chosen and it comes to donate, in 90% of cases it doesn't require them going anywhere near your bone marrow itself, everything is taken from your blood. It's not a cakewalk but its not operations or anything like. You are put on an apherisis machine which effectively takes blood out of one arm, splits out the stem cells and puts back the rest of your blood.
How is the transplant carried out?
Well transplant sounds severe but the actual giving of the cells into your body is just a normal injection run over about 30 mins into your blood much like any IV drugs or supplements. The stem cells, clever little buggers, find their way through the body into the big hole where the bone marrow that existed has been destroyed. Then they start to make blood.
Can you donate?
Yes. Don't be put off by the Nolan trust, they only accept under 30's for various reasons, however the NHS accept registrations for up to 45 year olds.
For the NHS - take a look HERE, just go a give blood and say you want to join the Stem Cell Register. The need for blood becomes apparent when you go into a cancer centre and its something everyone can do and it will save lives.
For the Nolan Trust if you are a youthful thing head HERE