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Stuart Freeman Donation Interview Thumnail

Donor Match Stuart Freeman tells us about his stem cell donation experience

Earlier this year we were thrilled to hear that one of our donor sign ups in 2017, Stuart Freeman, had been matched with a patient in need.  In July this year we were pleased to accompany Stuart on his visit to the London Clinic where he harvested his stem cells for the first time and was able to donate these cells to give his recipient a second chance at life.

We interviewed Stuart after his donation to give us some insight into his experience of being a stem cell donor and potential life saver.

How and why did you originally register as a potential blood stem cell/bone marrow donor?

I was with my brother at the Lilleshall 10k running event last year where Race Against Blood Cancer were holding a donor drive.  I knew of someone who had blood cancer but I knew nothing about the stem cell or bone marrow donors or how they are used to help blood cancer patients.   However, when I was shown how easy the sign up process was I went ahead and registered.

How did you find out you were a match for someone and how did you feel?

DKMS called to tell me I was a match for a patient in need – I obviously wanted to do it but like most people I did feel a little nervous as I hadn’t really researched the actual donation process beforehand, and didn’t know if there may be any long term side effects. Once I spent a bit of time researching the process I felt more at ease.  Knowing that I may have a few short term side effects didn’t bother me as I knew I could be saving a life.

Did you get to choose the method of donation? 

Yes I did – Initially they asked for bone marrow, which I was happy to donate but after reviewing the recipient’s needs the patient team were more than happy to take my stem cells instead.

How did DKMS prepare you for the donation (appointments/medical injections etc?)

I had a medical a few weeks before which I attended at the London Clinic and then 4 lots of 4 injections, four days before the actual donation.  The medical team also came out to me to do the injections – I was originally meant to be paintballing and so they were even prepared to come out to the venue, but it got cancelled so they came to me at home whilst I was watching the England World Cup game instead!

Where did you go to harvest your cells and how long did the process take?

I went to the London Clinic for my procedure – it took around 3hrs 50 minutes to collect the stem cells and I had to wait for around 30 minutes afterwards for them to check I had donated enough cells.  They needed 5 million but managed to collect 23 million in that short time.  I was told they would use what they needed and freeze the rest for anyone else who may need them.

Is it painful and did you experience any side effects?

I didn’t experience any pain as such; I just had the usual side effects that I’d prepared myself for, so I was slightly achy in the lower back and feeling a little groggy after the injections.  The medical team told me I would feel better after the stem cell collection and they were right.  The following day I was feeling 100% again!

Did you incur any costs?

DKMS covered my travel and hotel stay as I lived quite far from the clinic.  I was also given the opportunity to use an optional food and drink voucher but I used my own money.

How did you feel mentally and physically after the donation procedure was over?

I actually felt really good physically almost straight away; any side effects you have are not serious and are only short term.  I felt so positive that I had the opportunity to save a life and be able to raise awareness of being a donor and what the process involves – the worst part was being on camera!

How do you think we can encourage other people like you to register?

It’s really important to me to get across how easy it is to register and to donate.  Just a few hours of my time could have potentially saved a life and that makes me feel great.  For me it’s all about the awareness, if I can help inform people that life saving like this exists and show how simple the process is, then I know people would register in a heartbeat!

We would like to say a massive thank you to Stuart – the impact that he is going to have on his recipient life can’t be put into words. We would also like to thank you to DKMS, the medical team and the amazing staff on the day at The London Clinic.

Stuart and Alex Morison   Stuart Donation   Stuart Donating Stem Cells


Race Against Blood Cancer

Race Against Blood Cancer remembers Khaleel with fundraising event in his name

Last Saturday Race Against Blood Cancer hosted the ‘Remembering Khaleel’ fundraiser event in memory of young Telford boy Khaleel Khan who sadly lost his life following a battle with Leukaemia last year.

Despite the heavy down pours throughout the day, the event was a massive success with a fantastic turnout and huge support from the community. Khaleel’s little sister Simra volunteered for a sponsored hair cut which also took place on Saturday – she raised over £300 for the charity as well as donating her hair to the ‘The Little Princess Trust’ to make wigs for children with cancer. It was an emotional and proud moment for the family, combined with such a lovely atmosphere which was a touching tribute to Khaleel.

We would like to say a massive thank you to Duke York Trench pub in Telford for hosting; the performers, those who donated equipment, raffle prizes and promotional material, and all of the community who turned out to support the event. We would also like to thank all of the Race Against Blood Cancer volunteers for their help on the day and our community engagement officer Gemma Elsmore for organising such a memorable day for Khaleel’s friends and family. Over £1300 was raised which will enable us to continue our work in growing and diversifying the blood stem cell donor register.

Gemma also reached her personal target of registering 1000 donors since starting with the charity last summer – we are proud of her achievement which gives hope to many patients waiting for life saving transplants.

Remember Khaleel Fundraiser Poster


Race Against Blood Cancer

Blood cancer sufferer Dennis loses his battle against acute myeloid leukaemia

It is with tremendous sadness that our partners DKMS announced the passing of Dennis; a loving husband, father and a courageous fighter of blood cancer.

Since his diagnosis in January, Dennis, his family and our partners fought incredibly hard against a resistant form of acute myeloid leukaemia but sadly the battle was lost last week as a blood stem cell match was not found for him in time.

All of us at Race Against Blood Cancer send our deepest condolences to Dennis’ family and friends as this difficult time – hearing news like this really does bring home the importance of the work we’re doing to try to increase the volume and diversity of the register so EVERY patient has an equal chance of finding a donor.

Dennis


Race Against Blood Cancer

Croud’s latest fundraising efforts sees them cycle from London to Amsterdam in under 36 hours!

Back in June we shared via our Facebook page that global digital marketing agency Croud were embarking upon a HUGE challenge to raise money for Race Against Blood Cancer.

On 15th – 17th June their team of eight cyclists raced from London to Amsterdam and reached the finish line within their target finish time of under 36 hours! Wow!

We are pleased to share that the team raised over £7,400 for the charity – So many lives will be effected in a positive way with these funds, which will be used to help us register more lifesaving blood stem cell and bone marrow donors.

We would like to say a massive thank you to the team for their time and dedication – we massively appreciate Croud’s ongoing support for Race Against Blood Cancer and their willingness to help such an important cause.

2nd Batch_Photo 7

If you would like to take part in a sporting event to help raise vital funds for our charity, then please get in touch with Emma – emma.brown@raceagainstbloodcancer.com


Race Against Blood Cancer

Urgent donor appeal for 12-year-old boy of African Caribbean origin

“In March 2015 after Damary’s 9th Birthday I noticed Damary’s lymph nodes behind both his ears were swollen. I took him to the GP and they said it was an infection and he was given antibiotics to take for 7 days. Seven days followed and the swelling was getting worse, and I noticed he was not as active as he used to be. He was losing weight, sleeping a lot and snoring very heavily in his sleep.

The GP referred him to the hospital for a blood test, Ultra Sound, MRI scan. All the tests came back negative and they said they couldn’t find anything wrong with Damary.

As a parent you know when there’s something not right with your child so l demanded that the doctors do further tests for something else. One of the tests they did was a biopsy.  It showed Damary had leukaemia (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia) and that was the beginning of our nightmare.

Damary is a very active child, he loves karate, swimming, athletics and he’s brilliant at playing football and is currently playing for Euro Dagenham F.C, so to be told he had cancer was very devastating!

Doctors had previously said Damary’s treatment for his leukaemia would last three years, so he was due to complete chemotherapy this year.  During the course of his treatment it was a very difficult time for our family but as years went by we were looking forward to the end of him receiving all the toxic drugs which was helping to treat him. It was the best news for Damary and our family when the doctor told him that his treatment would end in July 2018 and he would be free from cancer and would be able to carry on with his life with no restrictions on what he could eat or which activities he could take part in. We had even booked a family holiday to Spain to celebrate the end of his treatment, and scheduled to leave on the 19th August 2018.

In May 2018 Damary’s blood test showed he had fallen out of remission, the leukaemia was returning which was puzzling to the doctors as Damary’s treatment should have been finishing in two months and he’s on the strongest chemotherapy there is for his leukaemia. They have now recently explained to us that Damary needs an urgent bone marrow (stem cell) transplant in order to survive as the cancer came back and it’s more aggressive than before and chemotherapy alone will not work.

Damary has been in hospital now for 5 weeks and during that time he had numerous infections, severe high temperatures and constant headaches.”

12 year old Damary

Damary’s only chance of survival is for us to find him a matching donor. We desperately need more people of African Caribbean heritage to register as potential lifesaving donors to help young boys like Damary.

Whatever your ethnicity take the few minutes needed to register today: www.raceagainstbloodcancer.com/join #Match4Damary


Insteps Academy Annual Show

Insteps Dance Academy and Fullout Dance Academy hold annual show

Over the weekend Insteps Dance Academy and Fullout Dance Academy, based in Ludlow and Leominster, hosted their annual dance show. They performed 4 shows over 2 days to over 600 people.

Once again, this year they chose Race Against Blood Cancer as their charitable partner and held a raffle to raise much needed funds. Not only was the weekend a great success for the academies but they also managed to raise £354 for our charity.

We would like to say a huge thank you to all those involved – these funds will help us to continue to raise awareness and register more potential lifesaving blood stem cell donors!

Insteps Dance Academy


Race Against Blood Cancer

Race Against Blood Cancer finds another donor match!!!

After all of the excitement over the England World Cup match yesterday, the team at Race Against Blood Cancer is even more excited to share our match news with you. One of our donor sign ups has been called to donate to a patient in need of a lifesaving transplant!

Meet Stuart Freeman, the guy who registered with us as a donor a few years ago and has now been called up to become a potential life saver. You can see from these photographs that the fantastic medical staff have been coming out to prepare him for his procedure – even whilst he was at work and sat watching the footy! 😄 ⚽️

2nd Batch_Photo 5A

Stuarts procedure will take place this Monday 9th July – watch out for live updates across our Facebook and Twitter channels to hear from the team and Stuart about his donation journey.

We wish Stuart the best of luck tomorrow and hope the process runs smoothly for him. We are also thinking about that special person who is about to receive this priceless gift – the impact Stuart will be having on this patients’ life is impossible to put into words! THANK YOU!

If you would like to become a real life superhero like Stuart, you can register here: www.raceagainstbloodcancer.com/join


Race Against Blood Cancer

5-year-old Kaiya Petal in urgent need of a lifesaving stem cell match

Kaiya Petal, who was diagnosed with Leukaemia earlier this year, is desperately trying to find a blood stem cell match outside of the family to give her the best chance of survival.

The family of Kaiya are appealing to members of the Asian community across the Warwick district to get tested to see if they could be a match for their 5-year-old daughter.

Kaiya’s aunt said “All focus is on getting that match not just for Kaiya but for so many other people who might need it in the future. The campaign has gotten so big and we are so incredibly grateful to have the support.”

If you live in the area there is a donor drive being held in Leamington which will take place on Sunday 10th June at the Community Centre at Shree Krishna Mandir at 10B High Street, Leamington from 9.30am to 5.30pm.

Don’t forget if you can’t make any donor drives but would like to join the register to help blood cancer patients like Kaiya, you can check your eligibility and register online for a home swab kit. See our website for more details www.raceagainstbloodcancer.com/join

www.leamingtoncourier.co.uk/news/stem-cell-donor-drive-being-held-in-leamington-in-hopes-of-helping-five-year-old-kaiya-1-8526582


Race Against Blood Cancer

Race Against Blood Cancer supports Flagz Mas Band

Last Sunday Race Against Blood Cancer held a donor drive supporting Flagz Mas Band at Wandsworth Arts Fringe in London, where the team worked hard to sign up more potential lifesaving donors to the blood stem cell register.

We would like to thank all those that showed up to register and to the organisers for allowing us to pitch up and engage with the community. We would also like to give a special thanks to the work of our team members Alex Morrison and Lenah Lang who continue to help those people needing lifesaving transplants.

RABC at Flagz Mas Band


Race Against Blood Cancer

Asda shoppers given a helping hand by eager volunteers

Last Saturday we held a community fundraiser at Asda in Donnington, Telford, to raise money for the charity.

Race Against Blood Cancer volunteers and a group of fantastic local young people aged between 6 and 16 gave up their sunny Saturday to help pack shoppers bags and raised over £390 for the charity. Funds raised will help us work to find more lifesaving donors for people needing stem cell transplants.

We would like to say a massive thank you to Asda Donnington – particularly June Walker who helped us organise the bag pack and to the Telford community for their generosity. We would also like to show our appreciation to those who worked hard on the day – Gemma Elsmore, Sarah Elsmore, Gail Fisk, Ayiana Francis, Tia Drummond, Rae Drummond, Marcus Hodson, Aaliyah Khan, Simra Khan, Khakis Khan, Pheobe Morgan-Steele and Austin Round.

Volunteers in Asda Donnington
Three of our volunteers raising funds at Asda in Donnington, Telford

What can I do to help? You can help save a life in 1 of 4 ways - find out more
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Donor register
It takes just a few minutes to sign up & help fight blood cancer
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Get involved
With campaigns & fundraising events that help save lives
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Donate funds
Please make a donation so we can get the message out there
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Raise awareness
Help us show how big the problem is & how easy the solution