My wife and I have known Sheila for over twenty five years and during that time we have shared all sorts of experiences that have made us both laugh and cry together in equal measure. Now Sheila is one of life’s troopers. She never complains and is always there to help anyone who needs it, and very rarely asks for anything in return, other than a thank you.
The last six months have been a challenge for this lady. In November last year she was diagnosed with Leukaemia, bad news by any measure, and since then she has been through various courses of Chemotherapy and spent endless weeks in Hospital.
Not once has she complained with her lot. When we visit she is alway very positive and talks about getting better rather than how ill she must feel. So this weekend we went to see her at home, to catch up with what’s happening in Sheila’s world. She and her husband explained that the situation had now changed, and without a bone marrow transplant the prognosis isn’t very promising.
So like any friend, I immediately volunteered to put my name on the transplant list as a donor. But here is the kicker – I am to old. Donors need to be between the ages of 16 and 30.
Here is the problem.
Every 20 minutes in the UK, someone like Sheila are told they have a blood cancer such as leukaemia and for many of these people a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant is their only chance.
They need cells from a healthy person – with the same tissue type – to replace and repair their own damaged cells.
About 30% of people in need can find a suitable donor in their family. But the other 70% rely on a stranger to save their lives.
The Anthony Nolan Trust is the organisation that helps that 70% to find those precious matches.
The Trust has over 500,000 donors on it’s register and they are constantly working to increase that number. Every time someone needs a transplant the register is checked for a match and they make more than 1,000 matches every year.
Now thats not great odds – in betting terms thats 500-1, but when you need a transplant any odds are better than none! To reduce those odds more people need to register and become donors. So here is my challenge to everyone who will read this.
What is needed is people between the ages of 16 – 30, or parents of these people to visit the Anthony Nolan website and register an interest in becoming a donor. It is easy and more importantly its painless. Your results will be put on a register with the other half a million other people. If you are a match, you will be contacted. It may happen or equally it may never happen, but if it does think of the difference you can make to someones life.
I will be championing this cause with every ounce of energy I have, not only because of Sheila but because I hope I can make a difference and help someone who really needs it.
So before you dismiss this without a second thought, what would you do if Sheila was your friend!
Also just think about how awesome it would be to know you have saved someones life.
Please have a look and see how you could help. http://www.anthonynolan.org