Blood cancer charity urges Mancunians to save lives after fall in registrations

Last year, lifesaving registrations in Manchester fell by 64% compared to 2020
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Blood cancer charity DKMS is urging people in Manchester to register as blood stem cell donors to help give a second chance at life for someone with blood cancer. 

The charity continues to feel the aftershocks of the pandemic, which devastatingly impacted the number of people signing-up. Lifesaving registrations in Manchester have fallen by 64% compared to 2020.

There is an urgent need for people to help meet the demand for donations and reverse the decline in registrations. 

Sadly, Manchester follows a national trend, with just over a third (37%) of the number of people in the UK registering in the first three months of this year compared to last Spring.

A stem cell transplant can be the last hope of survival for patients and despite the hope of a return to normalcy, a big push is needed in 2022 to help give those with blood cancer the best chance. 

A blood stem cell donation from a genetically similar person can offer a second chance at life for those in need.

Only one in four people with blood cancer (and in need of a transplant) will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family, which means that those in need of a blood stem cell transplant rely on the kindness of a stranger. 

June McCleave with her son Pete – copyright Yours magazine/Bauer Media

The family of Peter McCleave, 44 years old), from Bunbury in Cheshire, are on a mission to find his perfect match. The father of two young boys and Ironman competitor, had his life turned upside down – and shortened dramatically – following a myeloma diagnosis. 

The disease leaves sufferers highly prone to infections as it weakens the immune system and also bone degeneration which leads to the whole skeleton becoming very brittle.

Peter was given just seven years to live, five years ago, unless he finds a lifesaving blood stem cell donor through DKMS.

“At the moment my best bet for serious remission is a blood stem cell donor, this will effectively give me a new immune system,” says Peter. 

“My ethnic background is somewhat unusual and has it made it more difficult to find my lifesaving match, I’m a mix of both Portuguese and Chinese, known as Macanese. 

“Without a donor from the same heritage I won’t be able to see my sons grow up, which is a terrifying and heart-breaking thought. 

“Everyone has it in their heart to help but then life gets in the way. You could save my life by sending off a cheek swab. 

“There’s more good people out there than bad and I really need your help.”

Another family from Cheshire on a mission to drive further registrations is that of Andy Clague. 

DKMS Donor Recruitment Manager, Louise joined the fight against blood cancer and is on a mission to register as many potential blood stem cell donors as possible after her husband, Andy Clague, died in December 2017, aged 46, following a two-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

“My husband, Andy, was diagnosed with a blood cancer called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015,” says Louise. 

“It came as a complete shock to our family of four who had always been fit and healthy, enjoying sports and outdoor activities together. Andy loved exercising and used to cycle over 10,000 miles a year.

“After undergoing treatments for two years the cancer was still incredibly aggressive and we lost Andy in December 2017.

“I now work for DKMS and am determined to drive more people to register as blood stem cell donors so other families don’t have to go through the heartbreak we did (and continue to).

“Registering is so simple and something you can do at home, the impact you can have by donating is immeasurable. If you’re eligible please register today.”

Sam Stonier (38) from Manchester gave a stranger a second chance of life and is encouraging people in Manchester to register to do the same.

Sam, a software engineer and part time fire fighter, he donated his blood stem cells in 2018.

He first found out about DKMS through his jujitsu gym as the owner had registered. Sam donated his blood stem cells in 2018 and says it’s one of the things he is most proud of.  

“I would urge everyone to register to become a potential blood stem cell donor if you can,” says Sam.

“It’s such a simple thing to do, especially the initial process of signing up. It takes minutes to swab your cheeks and post them back to DKMS – which can make such a huge difference to someone’s life.

“I know my match was for a lady in her 50s with leukaemia, she could have a family, and even grandchildren so it’s not just changing one person’s life but their whole family.

“You may feel a bit run down for a day or two afterwards but the greater good outweighs this.

“The pandemic has had such a negative effect on new registrations but it’s more important now, more than ever before, that we seek to help one another in any way we can – so please register.”

Karen Scoltock from Oldham registered as a blood stem cell donor in March 2015 after seeing an appeal to help a little boy, Finn McEwen, find his lifesaver.

A few months later the mother-of-three was contacted to say she was a potential match for someone and she donated her blood stem cells by a peripheral blood stem cell collection. 

“I just knew straight away that it was something I wanted to do,” says Karen.

“I wanted to try and help somebody because I had recently lost two family members and it was so frustrating that I couldn’t help them, so I was pleased this was something I could do.

“We need to get as many people registered as potential blood stem cell donors as possible. It really doesn’t have a big impact on your life but it is potentially lifesaving for someone else and their family.”

 Reshna Radiven,  DKMS UK, says this is “deeply worrying”.

“We have witnessed a huge decrease in registrations since the pandemic took hold. With only one in four people finding a match within their family, thousands of blood cancer patients rely on the kindness of a stranger.

“We urgently need more people to come forward and register, because the more people we have on the blood stem cell register, the more chance there is of our patients finding that perfect match.

“By signing up, you could be giving someone a second chance at life”.

Taking the first steps to register as a potential blood stem cell donor can be done within a few minutes from the comfort of your own home. If you are aged between 17-55 and in general good health you can sign up for a home swab kit online at dkms.org.uk. DKMS is also holding an event on the 8th May at the Bruntwood Centre in Alderley Edge between 9am – 4pm to sign up new donors. In joining the blood stem cell register, and encouraging others to do the same, you are doing something incredible. You are giving hope to people with blood cancer and blood disorders.

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