I’m so lucky – I get to do the most remarkable things and our charity work means that I occasionally get to meet very special people who have done something amazing.
Recently, I was fortunate to speak to a lady who joined the stem cell register & later went on to become a peripheral stem cell donor.
“We all did the swab last year because of Margot” explains Ros Mafi who is predominantly English but also a quarter Greek. “I wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for Margot’s campaign”.
Ros was contacted by Delete Blood Cancer UK last year to say that she was a potential match, but nothing more ever came of that call. Then earlier this year, Ros was again contacted by Delete Blood Cancer UK and this time her tissue type match was confirmed and the process took her through to an actual donation.
“They asked me if I would still like to donate.” recalls Ros. “Once it was established that I was willing to go ahead, they explained that they would be putting me in contact with Anthony Nolan, as they are the ones who discuss the whole process, offer support / guidance / information and so on. Someone from Anthony Nolan then phoned me the next day to see if I definitely wanted to go ahead and donate and explained both ways of donating. They were my point of contact from this point onwards and Anthony Nolan (who are the UK Registry) support you through the process, organise everything and liaise with the doctors and the hospital.”
Ros stated her preference regarding donation method and it was explained that sometimes the traditional donation of actual bone marrow (as opposed to peripheral stem cells) is preferred and required, due to a variety of reasons that are beneficial to the need of the patient, who in this instance was an adult female.
“I explained I would still donate the other way, if required.” Says Ros. “Anthony Nolan contacted the patients team and it was then confirmed that peripheral stem cell donation was adequate.”
Ros recounts what happened: “They told me everything that was involved – everything was clearly explained – and I felt well taken care of. Part of that process was me having a full medical. It was all quite straightforward. Everything was arranged by Anthony Nolan.”
Once results from the medical came back OK a date was set for the donation.
Consequently, Ros received injections for 4 days prior to her donation to stimulate stem cell production in readiness for harvest. These injections were of G-CSF (Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor) and they meant that Ros felt “very achey, which was to be expected. They did explain that this might feel a bit like flu. There were no surprises.”
“Healthcare At Home provided the nurses to come to my house to give me the injections in the comfort of my own home. Again, this was arranged by Anthony Nolan. On the first day the nurse stayed with me for an hour to make sure there was no adverse reaction and she did medical checks before she left to make sure all was fine.
The nurses were very well trained and could see I was slightly anxious on the first day; she reassured me and said just keep thinking you are doing something amazing.”
“When I went in for the donation my husband came with me and I was there for some time” recalls Ros. “I don’t have the best veins, so initially the set up was a bit tricky, but once it was all up and running I sat back and watched a couple of movies. They took enough for the donation on that day, so there was no need for me to go back.”
“During the actual procedure I was visited by an Anthony Nolan representative, who asked me a few questions about how I was feeling and if I was happy with how everything had been handled. After my donation Anthony Nolan called me several times to check I was recovering ok and sent me a questionnaire to monitor my recovery.”
How did it feel ?
“At times it felt quite overwhelming, but it’s a privilege to help someone who is seriously ill. I think that there’s a fear of the unknown and having the full facts presented to you helps to understand the process and that addresses any concerns.”
“When I was asked to donate, my three children (who are aged 5, 8 & 11) were very curious and asked me ‘Why are you doing this ?’ and ‘Do you know this person that you’re donating to ?’ I explained what it was all about to them and that there was a 60% chance that my donation could save this patients life. They were amazed.”
On behalf of everyone at Team Margot, well done on your donation Ros and thank you for being so open and for sharing your experience. It all helps build a clearer picture of what’s involved post registration if you are fortunate enough to be a match and how a relatively small sacrifice can give hope and life to another person & family in need.
Together, saving lives