A twenty five year old man from Manchester has donated his stem cells to a child this month after joining the bone marrow register as a result of the Match4Martin campaign.
Liam Thorp, a reporter for the Bolton News, joined the Anthony Nolan register in Manchester in January after his sister, who worked with a friend of Martin, told him about the need for donors.
Liam says, “I must admit by the time I was called to tell me I was a match for someone, which was around six months later, I had completely forgotten that I was on the register. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would go ahead with it, I saw it as a pretty privileged position to have the chance to potentially save a life. I couldn’t help but think of the child’s parents and imagine that they would do anything to help him. That image stayed with me throughout the process.”
In 90% of cases, bone marrow is donated via peripheral blood stem cell collection, a procedure similar to giving blood. Liam donated by bone marrow harvest, used in 10% of cases, which involved a needle being inserted into his pelvis bone under general anaesthetic to remove bone marrow.
Speaking about his donation, Liam says, “One of the best things that Anthony Nolan did for me was put me in touch with a person who has donated bone marrow before. He really eased my mind and told me that the symptoms he felt were similar to having a pulled muscle in his lower back, and that was exactly the same for me. It was uncomfortable, but I have felt worse after a few bruising encounters on the football pitch. Within a week of the donation, I was back on my feet and feeling much better, all in all it is a very small price to pay for what could be achieved.”
Manchester lad Martin Solomon was struck down with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for a second time in 2012 and desperately needed a lifesaving bone marrow transplant. Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan searched the world for a donor but no one was a match for Martin. His family launched a campaign to recruit more donors to the register and inspired thousands of people to sign up as bone marrow, or blood stem cell, donors.
Paula, Martin’s mum, says, “It’s incredible to hear that someone who signed up through Martin’s campaign has donated to a child in need of a transplant. When we heard the news, we couldn’t believe it – without Martin’s campaign, that child may never have found a matching donor. It really shows the lifesaving difference that we can make.”
Martin, now 21, went on a drug trial of the Brentuximab Vedotin drug and he is now in remission from the cancer. He just spent a term back at Newcastle University studying biochemistry and is hoping to become a doctor in the future.
“We are still campaigning for more donors for everyone else out there who needs a bone marrow transplant as there is still a significant shortage of ethnic minority and mixed race donors. Hundreds of young people are stepping forward every week to join Anthony Nolan’s bone marrow register and encouraging their friends to do the same. If you have one New Year’s resolution, make it to join the bone marrow register – you never know, it might just save someone’s life.”