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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

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

Introducing our Community Engagement Officer Gemma Elsmore

Gemma, who’s been supporting Race Against Blood Cancer for a little over a year took some time out of her busy schedule to be interviewed by Emma Brown, our Social Media manager about how she first came in contact with the charity

“I first became a volunteer for Race Against Blood Cancer in March 2017, after learning that a friend’s son was in need of a blood stem cell transplant. This emotionally touched my heart and I wanted to offer my support in a way that I could try and really make a difference. I held my first donor drive in aid of the Match4Khaleel campaign, which was a huge success. We were able to sign up 57 potential donors to the stem cell register within 2 hours. This inspired me to want to help others who are in a similar position to Khaleel.

In May 2017 a job was advertised for a Community Engagement Officer in the West Midlands and I knew that this was something that I would love to do, so I applied for the position. I was delighted when I was offered the job at Race Against Blood Cancer because this meant that I could put my all into raising awareness of blood cancer and signing people up.

Over the past 10 months myself and my team of volunteers have signed up over 660 potential blood stem cell donors. I would really love for us to reach a target of 1000 by the end of August 2018 and to continue to encourage people from all different ethnic backgrounds to sign up because you never know when it could affect somebody you love.”

Gemma Elsmore – Community Engagement Officer.

Gemma Elsmore - Community Engagement Officer at Race Against Blood Cancer
Gemma Elsmore – Community Engagement Officer at Race Against Blood Cancer

Race Against Blood Cancer

Many potential lifesaving donors signed up at Google offices

Nearly 200 potential lifesaving donors signed up in just two donor drives at Google offices

Last week the Race Against Blood Cancer team popped into the Google offices in London to do another donor drive. After last year’s visit where we signed up over 100 donors, we were kindly invited back to capture any employees who may have been away. It was snowing and cold outside but the feeling inside was far from it as we managed to sign up an additional 65 potential lifesaving donors!

A massive thank you to Sam Smith who organised the event and all of those at Google who took the time to register. We would also like to show our appreciation to our community engagement manager Alex Morrison and volunteer Alex Kiffin who once again were on hand to sign up willing participants!

Alex and some new volunteer donors at Google
Alex Kiffin and some new volunteer donors at Google

Race Against Blood Cancer

Race Against Blood Cancer returns to the popular Shropshire Kids Festival

Last Saturday the Race Against Blood Cancer team hosted another donor drive at the popular event Shropshire Kids Festival 2018 at the Telford International Centre.

The event was full of busy families getting involved in all of the activities on offer, and the team still managed to sign up an impressive 57 blood stem cell donors amongst the madness! We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who visited the stand and took an interest in the charity, and a special thanks to those who registered!

New volunteers signing up as a stem cell donor
New volunteers signing up as a stem cell donors at the festival in Shropshire

We’d also like to show our appreciation to the organisers Shropshire Festivals and our amazing team Gemma Elsmore, Sarah Elsmore, Beth Elsmore and Jodie Thompson for spending all day on their feet, encouraging the crowd and signing up new potential donors who could help save the life of someone with blood cancer!

If you would like help with organising a donor drive in your place of work, please contact our community engagement team:

Gemma.elsmore@raceagainstbloodcancer.com Alex.morrison@raceagainstbloodcancer.com


NCS Thumbnail

NCS partnership goes from strength to strength

Since the summer of 2016, Race Against Blood Cancer has been partnering with APM who deliver the NCS – National Citizen Service for young people across the West Midlands.

The project has inspired over 900 young people by educating them about blood cancer and raising awareness about the importance of encouraging people to sign up to the blood stem cell donor register.

The young hopefuls have organised 30 donor drives so far and have raised over £2,500 for the charity. Race Against Blood Cancer hopes to continue the work this summer and inspire more young people to support this worthy cause.

Click the link below to read the full story here in the APM newsletter.

https://indd.adobe.com/view/0e6c89cd-3c3f-4baf-ae10-f0c8f9897b8e


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MPs call for more blood cancer testing by GPs

Sky news released an article today highlighting that MPs are calling for more blood cancer testing by GPs.

As the articles describes, the early diagnosis of blood cancer is vital. For the full story click:

https://news.sky.com/story/mps-call-for-more-blood-cancer-testing-by-gps-11210754

With only 1/5 ethnic minorities finding a suitable donor match, finding more live saving bone marrow and stem cell donors is also a top priority. To join the donor register visit:

http://www.raceagainstbloodcancer.com/join


Thumbnail Madeley Cricket Club

Andrew Lloyd organises Madeley Cricket Club F.C. reunion

Race Against Blood Cancer would like to thank Andrew Lloyd for organising the charity football reunion on Friday 29th December for Madeley Cricket Club FC.

Many of those who do so much for the charity had all played together for numerous years and it was great for them to get back together after nearly 10 years since they stopped playing.

Madeley Cricket Club F.C. reunion
Madeley Cricket Club F.C. 10 year reunion photo

Just like the old days it was back to the Cricket Club after the footy for food and several beers! We would like to say a special thank you to Madeley Cricket Club for their kind donation, and also massive thank you to Amber Davies for cooking food for 28 starving men!

The event which was a great success with over £300 raised for the charity, and plans now underway to organise the next one!


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