A young stem cell donor from Melbourne has urged others to sign up to the life-saving Anthony Nolan register, saying the process was “a privilege” and he will do it again.
Trainee accountant Ben Gotheridge, 20, of Queensway, Melbourne,made his donation on March 12 after being on the register for around two years.
Ben signed up to donate in 2016 when he was at Chellaston Academy, after an Anthony Nolan representative gave a presentation to students promoting its work.
Despite not knowing anyone who needed a transplant, he decided on the day that he wanted to register.
After the process, Ben said: “It’s a feeling I’ve never felt before, unless you have been through it, you will never feel that euphoria. It’s such a small gesture that is so big to someone else.”
Anthony Nolan is a UK charity which aims to match people willing to donate their blood stem cells or bone marrow to those with blood cancer or disorders in need of lifesaving transplants.
Ben added: “I had heard rumours that the procedure was painful, but in truth it’s not, it’s just a privilege,” he said.
In November 2018, Ben received a phone call saying he could be a match for someone.
In February this year, Ben went to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield for more tests – but one showed his white blood cell count was not at a good enough rate.
He said: “I had been ill so that may have been why, but for a few days I cut out alcohol, just tried to boost my immune system and generally be healthier. By the start of March I had another test, and everything was fine, I was ready to go ahead.”
On March 12, Ben travelled back to Sheffield to have the procedure: “I was there for five hours, there was pain in my right arm for a short time, but I was thinking to myself, if that’s the only bit of pain for the reward it gives, it’s worth it.”
“When it came time to say goodbye, I didn’t want to, they were so amazing, they appreciate what you are doing and you love to be a part of it, I will never forget them.”
Anthony Nolan have rules about interaction between donor and recipient, so Ben only knows their gender and weight at this stage.
He said: “We are allowed to meet in two years, but it has to be a mutual agreement. I would love to meet them, I’m currently drafting a letter to send them, but it has to be anonymous.”
After this donation, Ben must wait two years before going on the register again, but he says he will definitely do it again, and encourages others to do so.
He added: “I wish it was advertised more, it’s saving lives on a daily basis. I encourage people to sign up, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Sarah Cleveley, Anthony Nolan’s regional register development manager for the East Midlands urged others to sign up
She said: “Someone is diagnosed with blood cancer, or related disorder, every 14 minutes.
“For many of these people, a stem cell transplant is their last chance of life. By making the decision to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register and donate his stem cells, Ben has done something incredible: he has given someone else hope.
“We call donors lifesavers because that’s truly what they are. By joining the Anthony Nolan, or other stem cell registers across the world, they are giving people a second chance at life.
“We urgently need more young men, like Ben, to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 18% of the Anthony Nolan register.”
‘Joining the register is the easiest thing – it took me 10 minutes. It’s something more people should be doing.
'Having the chance to save someone’s life is a really good feeling.’
– Colin, stem cell donor
You too can join the stem cell register:
— Anthony Nolan (@AnthonyNolan) March 27, 2019
For more information on Anthony Nolan, visit their website: https://www.anthonynolan.org/