Hi Lee, how come you're back in London?
As I mentioned last time we spoke, after the initial donation I was put 'on reserve' for the same recipient for 2 years in case of a relapse. I received a call from the Anthony Nolan trust to tell me that the recipient from my previous donation was still showing small amounts of residual cancer cells and would benefit from a lymphocyte donation. If caught early enough, this would prevent the need for a second stem cell transplant and carries a much much lower risk for the recipient.
What exactly does a lymphocyte donation entail?
The lymphocyte donation is, for the donor, exactly the same process as the stem cell collection but without the need for the stimulation injections beforehand. You turn up to the London clinic, get hooked up to the apheresis machine via two cannulas - one takes your blood to a machine, separates it into its various bits, takes the parts it needs, in this case the lymphocytes and then returns the rest into your other arm.
How did you feel when you were asked to come back down to donate again?
You can't help but feel a little upset that after all of the preparation treatment and risk of infection the recipient has to go through that the initial stem cell donation hasn't fully taken hold. However it is good to know that a lymphocyte 'top up' could be enough for them to maintain remission.
How does the lymphocyte donation compare to the stem cell donation?
It is the same process only without the preparation injections so apart from feeling a little tired afterwards, there are no side effects.
Does it hurt at all?
Aside from needles, which I don't like anyway, one of the cannulas is rigid, meaning you can't move so,the worst part is not being able to use the toilet for 5 hours !! Especially when they have such a good food trolley doing the rounds. This time round I remembered and steered clear of the tea and coffee.
Are you allowed to be informed of how the patient is doing?
Not really, everything remains anonymous for a period of two years. The Anthony Nolan Trust will give me an annual update, but only as much as if he survives or not. After the two year period, if successful we are allowed to write to each other. Hopefully we will get that far and I can meet him.
If you would like more information about donating your stem cells then you can visit Anthony Nolan here
You may remember back in April we spoke to Lee Hatton about his experience of donating his stem cells to a patient in need of a life transplant. Well Lee has been back down to London to once again give more of his cells to the same recipient. Bpositive caught up with him to find out more...
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