Glasgow student donates life-saving stem cells

Published

Credit: Wikicommons - Checking Blood Sample

Credit: Wikicommons – Checking Blood Sample

Dalia Gala
Writer

A medical student at Glasgow University was found to be a match for a stem cell transplant in May of this year. Gregor Stark, who is actively involved in Glasgow Marrow, decided to be an example to all those who are considering registering as a bone marrow donor.

Gregor recently donated his stem cells in London by peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection. This is a simple, outpatient procedure similar to giving blood by which 90% of all donations take place. Stark explained that the procedure was almost as he had expected it would be, but perhaps even simpler.

Gregor said: “Marrow is so important because there are a lot of people who are in a very desperate situation. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to sign up, and at the same time it’s a very admirable thing to do.

“It’s not difficult to join the register and potentially save a person’s life.”

Sometimes side effects can be experienced after the procedure; Gregor, however, said his were minimal, and did not last long. His mother also came down to spend some time with him and keep him company.

Glasgow Marrow is a student volunteering network that encourages people to join the donor register that helps those with blood cancer. They are a branch of Anthony Nolan – an organisation that dedicates its time to improving the lives of people with blood cancer. The charity uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer and blood disorder patients in need of stem cell transplants.

Anyone considering signing up to the register can contact the organisation via social media or e-mail. In the last two years, Glasgow Marrow has recruited more than 1,250 people to the register

Patients with conditions that affect their bone marrow or blood may need a stem cell transplant. The stem cells, which have a potential to become any type of the cell in the body, will divide and replenish the poll of healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

As roughly 2,000 people in the UK require a stem cell transplant from a stranger every year, and it costs £60 to add each new donor to the register, financial support and new donors are always more than welcomed by the charity. It is often challenging to find a suitable donor, but the as more candidates sign up, the the probability of a match increases.

To join the Anthony Nolan register, the candidate must be 16-30 years-old and healthy. Young men and people of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are urged to sign up due to the shortages of these groups of donors.