A SOLIHULL man is urging others to follow him and become a potential life saver for people stricken with blood cancer.
Paul Matthew from Hillfield started out as a blood donor before moving on to donate platelets – the blood clotting element vital for cancer patients.
He then spotted a different leaflet at the donor centre in New Street in Birmingham city centre.
“It was for stem cell donors, I filled it in and then heard for five to six years,” said the married father of two.
“Then I got an email saying there was a possible match, and I was one of seven or eight people who could help.”
The blood cancer charity DKMS then arranged for Paul to go down to London for further tests where it was discovered he was the best match in the world for the patient, a man in his 30s living in the United States of America.
A further, all expenses paid, trip to London followed for the procedure itself, just as lockdown began.
“It was actually my birthday when I went down,” said Paul.
“The process itself was like giving blood, although they use both arms. It took about five to six hours, then they ran a test, made sure they had enough and I was back home the following day.
“You do need have some injections beforehand, but they can send a nurse to do that for you, although my wife took a sadistic pleasure in doing it instead and I reckon she wiggled the needle a bit too!”
He’s also clear that more people should join the stem cell register.
“It’s down to each individual conscience, but if someone’s got blood cancer, it could be Joe Bloggs down the road, someone you know, it all depends on the genetic profile.
“I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to do it.”
BLOOD cancer charity DKMS has seen lifesaving stem cell registrations drop in the West Midlands by a huge 78 per cent since the same time last year, compared to a national drop of 49 per cent.
Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer, the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK.
A stem cell transplant can be the last hope of survival for patients and during the coronavirus outbreak, it is even more important to offer hope to people with devastating blood cancers and blood disorders, whose lives have also been harmed by the pandemic.
To find out more and to register, visit Team DKMS at www.20for20.org.uk.