It’s not every day that you get to save a life, but that is exactly what one Newmarket man hopes he has just done.
Martin Gear has donated stem cells, through the Anthony Nolan charity, to a woman who would have died without the treatment, and now he is urging others to follow suit and volunteer to go on the list to donate.
It was when 32-year-old Martin, a Jockey Club heath man, first went to give blood some years ago that he was asked to go on the donor list to make a bone marrow donation, which he did.
He then forgot all about it until recently when he got a phone call out of the blue from the British Bone Marrow Registry.
“The next day couriers arrived at the door and I had to go to the doctors to give blood. It takes four weeks for them to test it and a lot people are refused at this stage because they find they are not such a close match as they thought,” said Martin.
“They said I was an exact match for an adult female, you are not allowed to know who you are helping, until two years has passed, but they told me: ‘She has been through hell and you are her only chance of survival.’ “I was very emotional and amazed that my stem cells will hopefully save her.”
Martin attended the London Clinic Hospital near Harley Street last week, where he underwent a four-hour treatment which involved being hooked up to a machine, with a needle in each arm.
He said: “It goes into the machine which filters your stem cells and it pumps what it doesn’t want back into your other arm. You have to stay in bed for four hours, but that’s it.
“A courier then takes it straight to the recipient as it has to be there within 72 hours. I don’t know where the recipient is, she could be anywhere in the world.”
Martin hopes that one day he will be able to meet the woman his donation has helped, but in the meantime he has written her a moving message, which has been passed on to her.
The message reads: “I feel very privileged to be given the chance to help you. I am so happy I was a match and I wish you all the best for the future, and hopefully one day we will meet.”
Since the procedure which saw him donate around 9,000 stem cells which will be used to try and boost the recipient’s immune system, Martin has been resting at home. He said a big motivation for him to donate was the fact that his wife’s aunt had died of leukaemia because a matching donor could not be found for her.
He is now calling on other people to follow his lead. Already a Facebook post he has made on the Anthony Nolan Facebook page has had 6,000 likes and people have been saying they have been inspired to go on the donor list because of his story.
Read the Facebook page by searching for Anthony Nolan on Facebook. For more about the trust, visit: www.anthonynolan.org/