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Stem cell donor register: 'Our son's life is in your hands'

"Everybody should sign up to become a donor. If you're not my match, you can still match somebody else and maybe save their life." - Finley Hill

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma and today we’re meeting seven-year-old Finley. He’s been diagnosed with a life threatening condition called HLH and is in desperate need of a stem cell transplant.

But with only 2% of the UK on the stem cell register, the chances of finding a match are slim.

Now Finley and his parents Jo and Paul Hill want to open up the discussion about stem cell transplants (which can be as simple as giving blood) not just for Finley’s sake, but for the 1000s of people suffering in the country.

How to register as a potential blood stem cell donor with DKMS

  • Check your eligibility and request a swab kit from DKMS

  • Complete the swabs the charity posts to you at home and send them back

  • At the lab, the swabs are analysed to determine if you are a potential match

  • If you are a potential match you will be contacted by the medical team and be asked to complete a blood test at your local GP, along with a medical questionnaire

  • If this is a success there are two ways in which you will donate blood stem cells. 90% of the time you will be asked to donate via peripheral blood stem cell collection. This is as simple as donating blood. The whole process takes approximately 4-6 hours and you can return to work within one or two days.

  • The other 10% of the time, stem cells are donated via bone marrow donation. This is a slightly longer process, involving a general anaesthetic and a two night stay in the hospital. A thin needle extracts bone marrow from the back of your hip bone (not the spine), from which blood stem cells are collected. It is said to feel like you have taken part in a tough rugby game and you can return to work within a week.

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