It’s really no big deal, it turns out.

There are two good things I would like to come out of the apparently increased traffic to my blog during my stem cell donation.

(para)olympic mascot in Regent's Park

1. That “Pedro” the enormo-recipient achieves the health improvement that’s hoped for from the actual donation. (Note to Pedro – I appreciate you’re not *that* big, and you’re name might not be Pedro, but it helps me to think of you in a comedic manner. I’d like to think that as well as my blood group, you’ll also get some of my sense of humour. If not, then you’re probably very upset at the moment… sorry.)

2. That more people I am able to reach this way consider becoming potential bone marrow donors themselves.

Here are some encouragements…

  • it’s not very likely you’ll be plucked from the register. I only know one other person who has donated stem cells. He did it the hard way a long time ago (onya, Phil, by the way).
  • if you’re a working parent, you shouldn’t sniff at a free trip to London by yourself and the chance to lie down without being pestered for at least 4 hours (I got lucky – I got 8 hours).
    put your feet up
  • you’re unlikely to be out of pocket. So far the BBMR have treated me right & either paid for stuff up-front or are going to reimburse me.
  • being injected in your tummy doesn’t hurt. The first of two injections per day doesn’t hurt. The second one only stings a little bit and, like childbirth, you soon forget what it was like.
  • I won’t lie to you, it’s not a process for the needle averse. I had 8 injections, 2 “out” pipes, one “in” cannula which stayed in overnight. Having said that, after the initial stab, it didn’t hurt.
    cannula
  • the only people so far who haven’t been very impressed at what I’m doing are my children. And they’re under 10 and not ill, so really don’t get it. Steve has now got so sick of me being modest that he’s adopting a Ford Prefect approach of “oh, OK then – you’re right. It’s nothing.” (if you don’t get the reference, (re-)read The Hitch-hikers Guide To The Galaxy. I’ll be over here, getting jealous while I wait)
  • You might get to discover a fab new way of doing your hair
    new hair
  • the nurses were lovely. The clinic was swanky. They didn’t do that just because it was me – they do that for all the donors. If you’re found through the Anthony Nolan thing you get a t-shirt and bag. I got flowers (they’re lovely, thank you)
  • you can put your name down, and if the letter comes through and you’ve changed your mind, you can say no even then. But would you? If you knew there was someone out there who needed your stem cells, and it just meant a week of inconvenience and some injections, would you turn them down?
    donated stem cells

I think you need to be eligible to donate blood in order to do it, but other than that, there just has to be an ill person who matches enough of their chromosomes with yours. And if you have a bad back they don’t let you. The likelihood of anonymous donors being found if you’re ill is small if you’re northern European. If you’re from an ethnic minority, it’s ridiculously small. The more people there are on the register, the better those odds get.

So please, if you can, firstly donate blood (you can consider that a gateway procedure), and secondly, get your name on the bone marrow register.

It’s really no big deal.

(p.s. @robinince just told me (let’s just appreciate that moment – I got to have a 2-tweet exchange with Comedy God Robin Ince) that he was refused by Anthony Nolan Trust on the grounds of being too old. I looked up how old he is and he is only very slightly older than me. Either I’m bang on the threshold, or the BBMR have a higher threshold, or he was refused for another reason and they were casting about for plausible Other Reasons. In any case (and seriously, Robin, I’m IN NO WAY casting aspersions or speculating about what those other reasons could have been because so far you’re the only remotely famous person (apart from the lovely @Caroline_S) to retweet me, so will be ETERNALLY GRATEFUL until the Ricky Gervais or Tim Minchin effect kicks in and the server crashes)), even if you’re about as terribly old as I am, it’s probably worth at least asking the question…)