A YOUNG man from Strabane has just recently completed a stem-cell donation that could save the life of a lucky recipient.
After receiving news from blood cancer charity the Anthony Nolan Trust that he was a match for a patient, 20 year-old Mark Hoynes was prescribed injections to promote stem cell growth before being whisked away to a hospital in England to undertake the potentially life-saving procedure.
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 a visit to Holy Cross College by the charity last year, Mark joined the register as a possible donor and was subsequently 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.”
While he experienced a number of short term symptoms as a result, overalls Mark said the procedure was straightforward and relatively painless.
“I started receiving G-FSC injections to stimulate the production of my stem cells, a procedure called peripheral blood stem cell collection,” he explained. “It commonly causes short term symptoms such as flu-like symptoms, bone pain, muscular pain and headaches, but it was a small price to pay for the chance to save another life.”
He continued, “I was hooked up to the machine which was collecting my stem cells. It was a similar process to donating blood but the difference was the blood came out of my arm and was drawn into the machine, then my platelets and stem cells were removed and my blood was then returned into my other arm. Overall this took around four hours.
“It was a simple procedure and I was expecting symptoms to be a lot more severe. There are a lot of misconceptions that the procedure is a major one and very painful. It isn’t as bad as people make out.”
With this, Mark is encouraging more people to consider the procedure and to donate blood.
“I would definitely recommend this to other people,” he said. “It was a very worthwhile opportunity, and if anyone gets the chance to it, welcome it with open arms.”