Saturday, 7 January 2012

Buckets of Inspiration

Since working on a haematology unit thirty years ago where most of our patients had leukaemia, myeloma or lymphoma, I've always taken an interest in the Leukaemia Research Society which does cutting edge research into blood cancers. So I was really inspired to come across a blog called 'Alice's Bucket List'. Alice is 16, lives in Ulverston in Cumbria and and suffers from Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She writes that she doesn't seem to be winning the battle with her cancer. A bucket list is what she decided to make for herself - a list of things she wants to do 'before she kicks the bucket'. She says some of them will just always remain dreams, but others she has already achieved. Top of her list is her desire to get everyone eligible to join a bone marrow register. Her blog is heart warming and inspirational. Do have a read and go onto the links to the various bone marrow registers which she gives.

You have to be between 18 and 49 to join the British bone marrow register. A bone marrow transplant can restore someone who suffers from a blood cancer to full, long lasting health, but the marrow of donor and recipient has to be extremely carefully matched. If you are a regular blood donor, you can ask about joining the register at your next donor session. Or you can apply to join online. Bone marrow donation can be done in one of two ways - the first does not even require a general anaesthetic and neither requires surgery. The marrow is either taken from the general blood circulation or from the hip bone under a general anaesthetic. 

Unfortunately, I'm too old to donate marrow, but I wish I could help Alice make one of her dreams come true. Bone marrow transplant is still a pretty radical procedure, but it transforms the lives of many very sick people of all ages from children to quite elderly and the gift can be given so simply. 

The British Bone Marrow Registry

And PS! Another unsung service that many of our military personnel give is the regular donation of blood and marrow to specialist haematology units. Because they all know their blood group, they often fulfil a valuable role in being willing to supply white cells, platelets and other blood products for patients with rare blood groups. 

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