We're very pleased to announce that we've introduced our first ever post-transplant specialist nurse, based at world leading cancer hospital The Royal Marsden
Hayley Leonard has been recruited to the first of three new post-transplant specialist nurse posts which we're introducing this year, to further improve the support that people need after a bone marrow transplant.
A bone marrow transplant is just the beginning of a blood cancer patient’s journey to recovery, explains Hayley, who has worked in transplant wards at The Royal Marsden for 10 years.
'We know that they can get through it and live a full and active life'
“After a transplant, patients can often feel lost. They’ve focused so much on finding a donor and getting to the transplant itself, that they may feel unprepared for the long road ahead to recovery, which can include a wide range of physical and emotional complications.. But we know that they can get through it and live a full and active life after cancer, with the right care and support.”
The Anthony Nolan nurses, who will be based in The Royal Marsden, as well as in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and the Manchester Royal Infirmary / Christie’s, will be introduced before the patient is discharged and, in the months that follow, will help them with their return to home and work life.
'We're here for them throughout their journey'
Explaining some of the severe physical and emotional effects and complications faced by patients, Hayley said: “Patients don’t just have medical needs after a transplant, such as Graft vs Host Disease – they might also need help with getting back to work or school, housing or financial issues, emotional concerns about the cancer returning as well as ongoing issues like fatigue, loss of appetite, and even fertility.”
“Having a dedicated post-transplant nurse means the pressure isn’t on the patient to navigate the health and social care system themselves. We’re here for them throughout their journey as one point of contact and a constant source of advice and support, looking at the bigger picture and helping to link them up with dieticians, social services and other useful resources.”
'I wouldn't be where I am today without someone like Hayley to help me through'
One of Hayley’s patients, Louise Noel, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2013, ‘the most devastating news’ she could have been given at the age of just 27. Louise had a stem cell transplant in February this year, thanks to two anonymous mums who donated their umbilical cord blood, but she faced a long road to recovery over the past few months.
Louise, now 28, said: “Until recently I didn't know if I could be strong enough to get through the next day, never mind the next year. Then I met Hayley Leonard, my Anthony Nolan nurse.
She talked me through my options, helped me understand what was happening to me and empowered me with strength and knowledge to take the control back in my life.
I am now well into my recovery and I wouldn't be where I am today without someone like Hayley to help me through.”
We want to improve quality of life for people after a transplant
The post-transplant nurses are part of our new increasing focus on improving quality of life for people after a transplant, as well as searching for donors.
We've been saving lives for four decades, by matching selfless people willing to donate their bone marrow or stem cells to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a life-saving transplant. This is usually their last chance of survival.
We launched a new photography book and accompanying exhibition, entitled ‘After’, telling the stories of 18 bone marrow transplant recipients and raising awareness of the post-transplant experience.
“It’s not enough just to provide a life-saving match for people who need a transplant and say our job’s done – we also want to help them live their lives to the full afterwards,” said Chiara De Biase, Head of Patient Experience at Anthony Nolan.
“Our new nurses will provide integrated care and support to bone marrow transplant recipients, helping them to enjoy a good quality of life after transplant.”
Find out more
If you or someone you love has experienced bone marrow or stem cell transplant, we've got lots of advice and information for you.
Read more in our dedicated patients and families section.