Anthony Nolan courier: ‘You are carrying a box containing someone’s life’

Peter Hodes, a courier for Anthony Nolan, outside Camden Road station.

Peter Hodes, a courier for Anthony Nolan, outside Camden Road station. - Credit: Archant

The Ham&High met Camden resident and volunteer courier, Peter Hodes, who spends his free time making life-saving deliveries.

Lara Casalotti is due to have her transplant in March.

Lara Casalotti is due to have her transplant in March. - Credit: Archant

News that a bone marrow match for 24-year-old leukaemia patient Lara Casalotti has been found was greeted with delight last week.

Lara, from Belsize Park, is due to have her transplant next month, with doctors hopeful that the procedure will save her life.

The donation will be organised and collected by bone marrow charity Anthony Nolan, which has a team of volunteer couriers travelling around the world.

Camden resident Peter Hodes became of the charity’s couriers four years ago.

After donating his kidney to a friend in 2006, 70-year-old Peter began doing talks about transplants for teenagers across the UK. Then he decided to become a courier for the charity.

The voluntary role can involve travelling anywhere in the world to collect bone marrow or stem cells, and bring them to the patient within 48 hours.

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Peter, a self employed business consultant, told the Ham&High: “There are so many organisations that are crying out for people to help, it is a really empowering experience and I am really privileged to be a part of this.”

Last year Peter took 54 trips on behalf of the charity and has done 178 in total – all carrying potentially life-saving bone marrow.

“You never really get used to the feeling of carrying the bone marrow around,” he said. “You are totally aware at all times that you are carrying a box that could potentially contain someone’s life.

“It can also be very stressful if you get stuck and I have had to run to get trains or planes before.”

The couriers are sent a list of trips and select the ones they are able to do – which could be anywhere in the world and normally stay over for one night before carrying the bone marrow back in a specifically designed cool-box.

Peter is a strong advocate of voluntary work and also donates platelets on a regular basis.

He said: “The reason I got involved with charities is because I wanted to spend my free time doing something beneficial.

“Finding a donor for patients like Lara makes the hard work done as volunteers so very worthwhile. Lara’s family and friends were inspiring in the way that they launched this campaign. They helped raise awareness of how critically important all contributions are to helping find matches for patients with blood cancers.”

Anthony Nolan are currently looking to recruit more couriers based in London. If it is something you are interested in, visit: