In a race against the clock, Ipswich volunteer Glenn Abbassi is giving up her Christmas holiday to collect lifesaving stem cells from China for a UK patient in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. The precious cells are likely to be the patient’s last chance of survival, and must be delivered from the donor to the recipient within just 72 hours.
Mrs Abbassi, whose first husband died from a blood disorder following an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant, will fly out late in the evening of the 23 December, spending Christmas Eve on the plane. She will spend Christmas Day itself in Beijing, where she will collect the stem cells before flying back on Boxing Day and delivering this incredible gift.
Glenn, 70, has been a volunteer for Anthony Nolan for seven years. She pledged to help them in their mission to save the lives of everyone who needs a bone marrow transplant, after her life was touched by their work – not just once but twice.
Glenn’s first husband Peter Davies was diagnosed with blood disorder Aplastic Anaemia in 1977. He needed a bone marrow or stem cell transplant but it was unsuccessful and he died in 1980. Glenn met her current husband Eddie Abbassi a few years later. Incredibly, he had flown from Iran to the UK to donate his bone marrow to his brother who needed a transplant.
Glenn usually spends Christmas with her husband and her two step children, although her family is away this year.
Glenn said, “Anthony Nolan asked if any of the volunteer couriers were available to collect stem cells from China over Christmas. For some people, Christmas is an important occasion to spend time with their families. But it’s also an occasion to be thankful for what we have and to think about other people – families with loved ones in hospital or local people who need help and support.”
Glenn has now completed over 225 trips for Anthony Nolan, collecting stem cells for vital transplants.
Glenn continued, “Lots of people ask me why I do it and the honest answer is that I enjoy volunteering. Being able to play such a vital role in delivering stem cells to patients gives me a lot of satisfaction. It’s a brilliant way to be involved in a charity which carries out such important work.”
Rob O’Grady, Volunteer Manager at Anthony Nolan, said, “When we had a request to collect stem cells before New Year, we knew that it was for someone who needed a bone marrow transplant urgently. Thankfully, Glenn volunteered to collect stem cells from China so that this patient can have the best chance at survival.”