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.
Owen Smith, 37, from Edinburgh, is a furniture designer. His cousin was a good friend of Millie’s, and his mum convinced him to go along to a recruitment event in Inverurie in 2003.
Five years later, he was called up to donate to a stranger and he didn’t hesitate. But it only hit home what a difference he’d made when he got a life-changing letter from his recipient…
“I first heard about Anthony Nolan during Millie Forbes' campaign to get more potential donors on the register. To be honest, I didn’t think about it too much and it was my Mum and sister who knew Millie who dragged me along.
I provided my sample and that was that. It was several years later that Anthony Nolan contacted me again about me being a match. Anthony who? Again, I didn’t think too much about it.
“The staff took me through the different options for donating and we discussed the best options for both myself and the recipient and went from there. Throughout the whole process the nurses and staff were amazing.
There was only minor discomfort, as much as you would experience after a daily run - and compared to what the recipient has gone through it's nothing.
“I didn't really think too much about donating my stem-cells and after it was all done I carried on with my day to day life. It was only when I received some letters a couple of months later, thanking me for giving them the chance to spend more time with their son, that it really hit home and I fully realised what I had done.
I can’t even begin to describe what that feels like: to give time to someone and for them to be able to spend that time with their family.
“I would do it again without a thought - just like I said in the beginning!”