Following our #inspiredbymillie advent calendar, we’ll be sharing three stories from people who signed up to the register during Millie’s original patient appeal, and went on to donate stem cells.
Neil Gray, 36, is an architect from Portsoy. He heard about Millie’s campaign when he was at university at Aberdeen, and went along to a recruitment event on the campus on 2003.
“On first seeing the Millie campaign and understanding about this lass from Aberdeenshire who needed a matching donor, I just thought "what if that was my sister?!". I guess the fact that she was local, it hit closer to home. I kept my donors card always in my wallet and still do, so every time I saw that little card it reminded me.
“The progress in medical research and what they can do with stem cells is amazing! But it still takes the human element to actually make it happen - and as humans we should show more compassion, every little helps! Throughout my life, I've relied on so many people to help me get through my physical problems that it just made sense to give something back.
“I donated my cells on Valentines Day of all days, Feb 14th 2012. It was down at Kings College Hospital in London.”
“I had a letter some months later to inform me that unfortunately the recipient had passed away. All I knew was that she was an adult lady. Whilst it was sad to learn of the passing of my recipient, I hoped that perhaps I had at least extended her life even by a few days and if anything perhaps I had given her hope. For that word alone can mean so much to a lot of people. As for how I feel, I was just doing in return what many others had done for me, just in a different way.
“I think Millie’s campaign was and still is a great campaign and an important part of helping people to make that step and join up. The day I went to sign up I remember the nurse saying that they really needed more males to join but only about 10% of the people who turned up that day had been males. But at least 10% was better than 1% and without Millie’s Campaign having a big impact around the university campus, that may not have been the case.”