Amongst the tens of thousands of people who registered as a result of Margot’s appeal last year, is three times World Hang Gliding and Paragliding Champion and world altitude record holder, Judy Leden MBE from Derbyshire. Judy went on to be matched with a patient in need of a donor and actually donated her stem cells just a few weeks ago.
It’s significant that Judy donated her peripheral stem cells, not least because she is a woman at the top end of the UK age range for stem cell donor recruitment. There is a great deal of focus upon the recruitment of young male donors (because medical science tells us that they make the best donors), but let’s not forget how when you’re in desperate need of a bone marrow donor, a match of any kind is hugely welcomed because it’s a potential life saver.
That’s precisely how we felt when, several weeks after the donor search process had started, there were no unrelated donor options identified for Margot at all.
Judy has kindly put pen to paper and written her first ever blog below. You can also hear her comments and views on why she donated here.
Thank you Judy !
“As the nurse approached with the needle, my thoughts went straight to someone suffering far more than me.
Someone, somewhere, had received a diagnosis of blood cancer, had endured the misery and pain of chemotherapy and was undergoing radiotherapy to strip away the last of their own immunity, to prepare them for a stem cell transplant.
Whatever lay ahead for me over the following 4 hours was truly negligible, by comparison.
I had joined Delete Blood Cancer’s register 18 months beforehand, having seen the TV campaign to find Margot a suitable donor. It was an immensely powerful piece – not just the image of Margot with her obvious zest for life, but the desperation of her parents who were so helpless as they were not a match for their daughter.
I registered right there, right then; not only for myself but also my husband and 18 year old daughter.
It was something I had always intended to do, much like clearing out the attic, or sorting my photographs. I just had never found the time. It seems ridiculous now, as it only took 5 minutes, but as with most people, I have a busy life and the ‘to do sometime’ list never had priority.
The call came out of the blue, to say I had been matched. I was amazed and delighted that I would be able to donate stem cells. There was a period of a couple of months where the detailed tests were done to ensure I was indeed a match, then a medical check to make sure I was in good health. I am at the upper end of the age range for donation but fortunate enough to have no health issues and was given the green light to donate.
The injections for 4 days beforehand were done at my convenience, and the process of donation was fascinating, linked up to a machine with a centrifuge that can separate out the stem cells. The result – a small bag of red tinged liquid that looked unimpressive in both quantity and colour, but that could prove a lifeline to the recipient.
I had a visit during donation by Jayne Snell, who had received a stem cell transplant 3 years ago. She was fit and well and shared her story with me. I was very touched by her tale as her children are the same age as mine and I was struck by ‘There but for the grace of God….’
We decided then and there to go hang gliding together – Jayne’s new lease of life has given her a taste for adventure and a need to embrace every precious minute of life. It was a great way to celebrate becoming ‘blood sisters’ as well as raising funds for Delete Blood Cancer UK. it was a truly joyous flight with spectacular views.
We stretched out our arms to grab a handful of cloud for Margot, and I thought of the amazing legacy that she has. The person who received my stem cells has hope, maybe more time with their family and, with luck, they may be as well as Jayne is in 3 years time. There are at least 10 more people (and counting) on the register due to my zealous recruiting, so the wave of her influence grows.”
We love hearing from people who have donated their stem cells or bone marrow, especially if they were inspired to join the register because of Margot’s appeal or the efforts of Team Margot. If you have donated your stem cells or bone marrow and are up for writing a blog, please get in touch with me at: email@example.com
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