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How to save a life in on easy step

PUBLISHED: 12:45 15 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:11 07 September 2010

Robyn Rosen

Robyn Rosen

Ham&High reporter Robyn Rosen has joined the bone marrow register at Hampstead-based Anthony Nolan Trust. In the first of a series of articles, she describes taking the brave step to sign up to save lives DRILLING into your back, excruciating pain, chi

Ham & High reporter Robyn Rosen has joined the bone marrow register at Hampstead-based Anthony Nolan Trust.

In the first of a series of articles, she describes taking the brave step to sign

up to save lives

DRILLING into your back, excruciating pain, chipping away at bone - I'd heard it all. But the truth about joining the bone marrow register couldn't be more different.

Last week I filled out a medical form, had a short chat with an expert and gave a tiny sample of blood, all of which took about 15 minutes. I could now be called on at any point, until the age of 60, to save someone's life.

If I am found as a match to a patient with leukaemia or another bone marrow disease, transplanting some of the stem cells from my bone marrow could help regenerate a patient's immune system which has been weakened by extensive chemotherapy.

Lynsey Dickson is donor recruitment manager at the Anthony Nolan Trust in Agincourt Road.

She is responsible for organising recruitment clinics stretching across the M25 area to help find donors for the 16,000 patients worldwide who are awaiting a transplant.

If a patient needs a transplant, they have only a 30 per cent chance of being matched to a member of their family, so one of the first steps for the Anthony Nolan Trust is to set up recruitment clinics in the patient's area to try to inspire the local community to join.

"It's very difficult getting people through the door, particularly if it's not linked to a patient appeal," Ms Dickson said.

So why is it so hard to find people willing to take part?

"There are so many misconceptions around the process," she added. "People think that we drill into their spine and that it's extremely painful, and they often mix it up with organ donations and think you have to be dead, which is all wrong.

"Unfortunately, we don't have an endless pot of money for advertising, but education is the key and we're happy to talk to sixth-form pupils about the reality."

Ms Dickson added that if a person saw a child about to be hit by a car, they wouldn't hesitate to jump in and try to protect them. Joining the register, she said, was obviously less dangerous and still saved lives.

"It's important to concentrate on what you are achieving by donating," she said. "People can wait years for a transplant and, meanwhile, they're deteriorating. Their life is dependent on the kind act of a stranger.

"It's a really rewarding job and puts your faith back into human nature. It's amazing to see how people will go out their way to join.

"There are not many opportunities to save someone's life and this is one of those opportunities."

q For more information about

joining the register, being a

donor and transplants, visit the

charity's website at www.

anthonynolan.org.uk.

robyn.rosen@hamhigh.co.uk


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