Pupil could prove to be life-saving donor

Holy Cross Anthony Nola#CDF

Mark (centre) with Holy Cross students, Ruairi McGoldrick and Touran Baghi with representatives of the Anthony Nolan Trust.

A YOUNG Holy Cross College pupil could prove to be the life saver an English cancer patient has been waiting for after experts found similarities in their blood types.

Mark Hoynes, a 19-year-old A-Level student, is now waiting on a phone call that could see him whisked to London to make a potentially crucial stem cell donation.

The match emerged purely by chance following a visit to the Strabane school by representatives from the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Established in 1974, the Anthony Nolan Trust matches individuals willing to donate their blood stem cells or bone marrow to people who desperately need life saving transplants.

During the visit, Mark joined the register as a possible donor and was quickly identified as a match for someone requiring a stem cell transplant.

He explained, “They contacted me to tell me I had a very popular tissue type so I had to go and send off a blood sample which was done through the local health centre. 

“From there I got a phone call telling me I was a potential match so I went for further testing which meant another blood sample. Then I then got a letter in the post saying that I was a good match for a patient and that it was in the hands of the transplant centre to decide when it would be best for them to receive my stem cells.”

Mark knows very little about the individual whose life he could be about to save. At the minute the teenager is waiting for a phone call summonsing him to London to make the transaction.

Nine out of 10 people donate their stem cells via the bloodstream in a straightforward process call ‘peripheral blood stem cell collection’. In terms of side effects, Mark has been warned he will be weak and feeling like he has a bad dose of the flu.

He said though it was a small price to pay for the difference his donation could make.

“I will be proud when it is all over,” Mark said.

“When the Anthony Nolan Trust came to the school, about one in five people signed up and I think that was because they were afraid of the process as it does sound quite gruesome. But it was explained to us that it’s not as bad as it sounds and that there are a lot of myths around what actually happens.”

Offering some words of advice to anyone considering signing up as a potential donor, the 19-year-old said simply, “Think if it was a member of your own family.”



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