A Glengormley man, who donated his blood stem cells to a complete stranger a year ago, is urging others to become a lifesaver-in-waiting.
Father of two, Scott Wallace (36) is appealing to people to register as a potential donor with DKMS, a blood cancer charity.
DKMS joined forces with Scott’s workplace, TSYS Belfast, to host a donor registration event last month. It encouraged staff members aged between 17 and 55 and in general good health to register. A total of 110 people registered to take part on the day.
Scott shared his own personal donation experience as he initially registered with the charity in 2012 after hearing about a local child’s search for their lifesaver. He had also previously witnessed his own cousin’s fight against blood cancer and has been keen to raise as much awareness as possible.
Scott said: “It couldn’t be simpler to take that first step to register as a potential blood stem cell donor – I did so in 2012.”
Five years later, Scott was busy at the office and he kept on missing calls from a particular number. He soon realised that it was DKMS trying to reach him to say that he had been identified as a potential match for someone in need.
Scott continued:: “It’s hard to describe how you feel when you’re being told that someone else needs this donation and you’re the best possible match. I don’t know how anyone can say no to that? It made me feel really happy knowing I could potentially help them.”
Scott donated his blood stem cells through a bone marrow collection, which happens in 10% of cases. In the remaining 90% of cases it is done through a peripheral blood stem cell donation. It involves blood being taken from one of the donor’s arms and a machine separates the blood stem cells from it. The donor’s blood is then returned to them through their other arm. This is an outpatient procedure that is usually completed in about four hours.
Following the donation Scott said: “I received compliments about how great my bone marrow was, as apparently it was really dense and good quality and therefore they didn’t need to take as much.
“I also found out that my donation had gone to a 44-year-old male from the States. The last update I received was saying he was alive and that the transplant was deemed successful, in that the stem cells had begun reproducing new healthy blood cells inside the recipient’s body. I really hope he is continuing to do well.”
Scott was able to return back to work after a week. He has gone the extra mile for the charity ever since by completing the Belfast City Half Marathon last year raising over a £1,000.
He said: “After my personal experience I could see how much work goes into setting up the donation. I wanted to raise awareness of the importance of blood stem cell donations and raise funds to help register even more donors.
“Cancer affects so many people and everyone knows someone who has been affected by it. A donation could really help to make a difference to someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder. It’s quite humbling to be a match and being able to help someone else.”
Scott was also nominated for the Heart of TSYS Corporate award and he selected the charity to receive a corporate donation.
Caroline Richardson, head of fundraising at DKMS, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure working with Scott. He’s a real hero from actually donating his own blood stem cells to a complete stranger, raising vital funds and helping spread awareness of DKMS with TSYS employees. Thank you to everyone who registered on the day and is helping to support the vital work we do.”
To register one potential blood stem cell donor it costs £40, a donation can be made at: dkms.org.uk/donate-money.
If you are aged between 17-55 and in good general health, you can register online for your home swab kit at www.dkms.org.uk and take the first steps in becoming a potential lifesaver.