My late daughter, Margot was diagnosed with blood cancer ten years ago today.
During the early hours of the following morning, Margot arrived at the paediatric intensive care unit in Great Ormond Street Hospital. She was in a perilous condition and urgently needed to be rescued.
Margot was put into an induced coma so that she could receive a platelet transfusion. And because her blood was so riddled with leukaemia, this was quickly followed by an exchange transfusion of red blood cells; effectively, all her blood was removed and replaced by the blood of a donor.
Fortunately, the right blood and platelets were immediately available and mercifully, Margot survived that episode and was brought out of her coma over a week later.
Those blood & platelet transfusions saved Margot’s life, but didn’t address her blood cancer. Doctors then told us that Margot needed a bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant to address the leukaemia, for Margot to stand the best chance of survival.
The search for her ‘perfect’ donor match was soon underway; a suitable donor was eventually found in Germany.
Initially, during the weeks that followed her stem cell transplant, it appeared as though Margot’s transplant had succeeded.
Unfortunately, the leukaemia returned, at which point Margot was declared incurable.
Some weeks later, to her credit, my wife Vicki (Margot’s mum) raised the prospect of donating Margot’s organs, after her death. This was a seminal conversation. My instinctive reaction was one of horror and I recoiled at the mere suggestion. However, within a day or so, I had come round to a very different way of thinking and was not just willing, but was positively certain that donating Margot’s organs would absolutely be the right thing for us to do.
We later discovered that this wasn’t going to be possible – because Margot had a blood disorder – however, the really important point here is that Vicki and I had discussed and agreed on what to do. That very difficult conversation helped us to agree on something which seemed so unthinkable.
Now, we irrefutably know how each of us feels about this matter. It might seem counter intuitive and perhaps a little odd, but comfort lies within that understanding.
Team Margot Foundation was set up 3 months after Margot’s death, in her memory and to honour her legacy. The charity was initially a donor recruiter, then an educator and today is the secretariat of an All-Party Parliamentary Group: Ethnicity Transplantation and Transfusion.
Donation remains at the core of what the charity is all about. As Vicki says:
“This could happen to anybody. If you’d be prepared to take a bone marrow transplant, or any other type of organ donation or blood donation, then I feel that people should be prepared to give also… I’d like people to think about that.”
Please sign up TODAY as a donor and encourage others to do the same:
Together, saving lives