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Help save lives with bone marrow donation, says Portland mum
A MOTHER is appealing for more people to sign up and help save lives this September.
It’s the first-ever Blood Cancer Awareness Month and charities are supporting the cause to raise awareness of the different types of disease and dispel some of the myths about the pain of bone marrow donation.
Lyn Kirkland’s son Rory was saved by a bone marrow donation after he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
Mrs Kirkland, from Portland, thinks the awareness month is a good idea because the UK needs to be doing more to educate people about donation.
She said: “Rory’s donor comes from a German village a similar size to Southwell on Portland, where we live – but she knows six people in that area who are donors. That’s quite a huge percentage.
“Imagine if as many people donated here. There needs to be better education from an early age.
“This country doesn’t do as much as it could.
“If only people could see just what it means for families and the desperation they feel.”
Mrs Kirkland said donor Katja Kolberg and her husband Stefan have now become ‘part of the family’ for the role they have played in helping Rory.
Mrs Kirkland added: “Katja says she would do it again at the drop of a hat.
“She says it was absolutely nothing for her to do it, but to see Rory and how well he is doing now makes her very happy.
“There’s no doubt that Rory wouldn’t be here without the donation. She has given the greatest gift to us.”
The most common forms of blood cancer in the UK are leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
The awareness month is being supported by charities such as The Anthony Nolan Trust, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research and Myeloma UK.
Ellen Marshall from the Anthony Nolan Trust said the charity is appealing to young men in particular to come forward.
Men generally provide greater volumes of blood stem cells than female donors.
This helps faster engraftment and the reconstitution of the immune system post-transplant.
If there is a choice between a male and female, in most cases a male donor will be preferred.
She said: “They make up 80 percent of donations but they only account for 12 percent of people on the register.
“Men aged 19 to 25 have a one in 200 chance of being selected, whilst for women of the same age it’s around 1 in 1,000.”
Ellen added: “Every 20 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer.
“We can only find suitable donations for about half the people who need one.
“Bone marrow donation is the last chance so unfortunately the people who can’t find a donator will in all likelihood, die.
“There are just under 500,000 people on the register at the moment and we are always looking to increase that.
“There is a greater need for awareness, both of blood cancer and bone marrow donation.
“This month sees a number of charities coming together for the first time and we’re looking to expand Blood Cancer Awareness Month for 2014.”
She said it’s important that people are educated about the changing face of donation.
She added: “Nowadays most bone marrow is taken by peripheral blood stem cell donation (PBSC).
“There’s no need for general anaesthetic.
“Blood is taken from one arm, the stem cells needed are taken and the blood is put back through the other arm.
“The process takes around four or five hours.”
4,700 cases each year
A SPOKESMAN for Myeloma UK said: “Around 4,700 people are diagnosed with myeloma in the UK every year.
The number of cases has more than doubled in the past 30 years and it is estimated there are around 14,000 to 20,000 people with myeloma in the UK at any point in time.
“Myeloma is a blood cancer found in the plasma cells in the bone marrow, so that is why we are supporting Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
“We are helping myeloma patients live longer and with a better quality of life, by accelerating the discovery, development of and access to new treatments.
“At the same time we are helping patients and their families cope with everything a diagnosis of myeloma brings.”
WHAT is leukaemia? A type of cancer found in blood and bone marrow which is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells.
The high numbers of abnormal white blood cells are not able to fight infection, and they impair the ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets.
What is lymphoma? A type of blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system removes excess fluids from the body and produces immune cells.
Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that fight infection.
Abnormal lymphocytes become lymphoma cells, which multiply and collect in the lymph nodes and other tissues. Over time, these cancerous cells impair the immune system.
Myeloma is an incurable but treatable cancer that affects the plasma cells in bone marrow Myeloma is a very individual cancer– no two myeloma patients are the same. There is no known cure Myeloma will return.
It causes a range of symptoms and complications including bone pain and fractures, kidney damage, fatigue and infection.
Delays in diagnosis mean one in five myeloma patients die within 60 days of diagnosis.
Myeloma has been identified as having one of the highest rates of delay in diagnosis Some 71 percent of people diagnosed with myeloma are aged 65 years and over.
Approximately 70 percent of myeloma patients survive for one year or more after diagnosis– this is double the survival rate from the 1970s.
How donations are carried out
ADVICE from the NHS:
- You are asked to give a sample of blood to determine your tissue type and this is kept on a register.
- You are contacted if you could be a match for someone who needs a transplant. The most widely used method of donating bone marrow is known as a peripheral blood stem cell donation (PBSC).
- You will have to visit the hospital or clinic for four days in a row to receive injections which stimulate the production of stem cells.
- On the fifth day you will be connected to a cell-separator machine without the need for a general anaesthetic. The machine usually collects the stem cells from your blood through a vein in one arm, returning the blood to your body through a vein in your other arm. This takes about four to five hours and may need to be repeated on the next day.
- Those aged 18 to 49 years of age to join the British Bone Marrow Registry. Those 16 to 30 years of age to join the Anthony Nolan Trust register.
- You should be in good general health and weigh more than eight stone.
- The younger you are when you join, the more chance there is of your tissue type being matched to that of someone who needs it.
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