When he was just 22, William Black from Dunfermline was diagnosed with an incredibly rare immune system disorder - hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). The disease is often found in young children, and William’s consultants told him that he could be the first adult ever to have HLH in Scotland.
‘I was always a very fit and healthy guy. So when I was diagnosed with HLH in 2009 it came as a massive shock.
‘The chemotherapy I was given to treat the disease didn’t work, and I was told I would need a stem cell transplant to survive. It was devastating news, and before my transplant I was at my lowest ebb.
‘When a donor was found by Anthony Nolan I was ecstatic, as I now had hope for a future. My condition is fatal and treatment didn't work, if I didn't find a donor then I wouldn't be here today, it's that simple.
‘At this point I decided to start fundraising and recruiting donors to the Anthony Nolan register as I needed something positive to focus on. It also gave me a chance to help others in my position and thank Anthony Nolan for giving me a second chance.
‘The transplant itself was a gruelling process. I was weak and tired and slept most of the time, sometimes even when I had visitors which made me feel terrible. I’d bought a model helicopter into isolation to keep me occupied, but I simply didn’t have the energy to even contemplate making it.
‘As I started to recover I had to learn to accept that my body had changed. When I eventually returned to work, I decided to start cycling in to work each day to try and regain some of the fitness I’d lost through my illness. Gradually I began cycling further and further. And by 2015 I’d completed the 110 mile Big Belter ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh (on a beautiful day too – rare for Scotland!) Since then I’ve taken on RideLondon, Tough Mudder, the Edinburgh Half Marathon and the British Transplant Games.
‘The competition at the Transplant Games was really tough. I was thrilled to come home with a silver medal in 2016 and it’s spurred me on to want to take part in the World Transplant Games – that would be phenomenal! I also hope to meet up with my donor soon so I can thank him or her in person for the incredible thing they’ve done.’
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