Register. Swab. Save a life

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A little while ago my Uncle was diagnosed with a rare form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, it was a shock for the entire family and they rallied around him.  Close family members were asked to undertake a non-invasive test to check whether they were a match in case he needed a bone marrow or stem cell transfer, I planned on attending the hospital when we were next visiting to have a compatibility test (we’re not that close, but it’s what you do…right?).  Mere days later I watched a piece on BBC Breakfast about Team Margot and their amazing campaign and it suddenly struck me, more than our family experience, one day this could be us, our son, my little baby.

It’s fair to say that once I became a parent I started thinking this about everything, every charity campaign, every child refugee, Children in Need is strictly a no go area for me now, I find it too upsetting.

Anyway in short, whilst I accept there are thousands of excellent causes out there, I want to tell you about this one.  Watching the Team Margot campaign video still brings tears to my eyes, the message seemed so clear, so straightforward, so I headed over the the Delete Blood Cancer website to find out more.

I didn’t know much about the whole donation system, and to be fair I thought that it was all done on the NHS, I didn’t know that actually there are four organisations in the UK who deal with registration for donations and they all feed into a single register.  These organisations are:

Delete Blood Cancer UK (the organisation we registered with)

Anthony Nolan (we were too old for the criteria but this is the only organisation I had heard of before Margot’s campaign)

British Bone Marrow Registry (if you already give blood you can register when you next donate)

Welsh Bone Marrow Registry (as above you can register when you give blood)

Each organisation has slightly different criteria you need to meet before you can register so have a look at their websites and check this if you are thinking about donating.  Remember you only need to register with one organisation once only so you do need to keep them updated with address and other contact details.

I don’t give blood – going through weekly blood tests when pregnant nearly finished me off and I cried when I had to have an epidural and cannula during labour.  The thought of having to go through a further test and then potentially on to donate terrifies me so I had to think really carefully about registering.  I don’t think there’s any point in registering if you’re not really prepared to go through it, there is only a 1 in 1,200 chance that you’ll actually be asked to donate but in my head those odds are still pretty good.  I read a lot about the actual donation process and although I know I will still freak out if called upon and probably cry and make a mahoosive drama about it (that’s just the way I am) I know I can overcome that fear because I can see the potential consequences could be life changing, for me it’s worth it.  I thought about the practicalities, like what about care for my son while I had the tests, would I have to take annual leave to donate, how prepared would I be to go through with it?  I really took my time and thought about it thoroughly before I made a decision.

I’ve only registered with Delete Blood Cancer UK so I want to tell you a little about the straightforward registration process:

1. Go to https://www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk/become-a-donor/register.html and fill in the online registration form.

2. You will then be sent a ‘do it yourself’ swab kit in the post. Just rub the cotton bud like swabs on each cheek for 30 seconds, then pop the swabs back in the post in the return envelope.

3. Wait for your donor card to come through – it does take a while but that’s because they’re so busy which is a great thing!

 

There are risks as a donor so I strongly recommend you do your research before you register, I found the NHS website particularly helpful.  Registering is a big ask – but if you want to help without registering please do!  Did you know that Delete Blood Cancer UK and Anthony Nolan are charities?  It costs Delete Blood Cancer UK around £40 to process each registration (remember they need to analyse the samples) so they do all this great work purely on the back of donations and fundraising.  You could donate to them, contribute to or even run an event!  They have fundraising events and suggestions via their website, Twitter and Facebook, check out their fundraising pack.

It’s great if you can REGISTER. SWAB. SAVE A LIFE.

BUT there are other ways of helping too.

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