I’m now 22, and four years after starting treatment i’ve started steps towards my transplant. If successful it should be a long term cure from my leukaemia
They began looking for a donor pretty much as soon as doctors found out I’d relapsed.
Bone marrow matching can take a long time as they need to find the best possible match as this’ll determine the success of the transplant. They also told me it would be harder to find a match for me as I’m mixed race. There are ten points that can be compared between donor and patient. The more points that can be matched the better. Siblings can often be a 10 out of 10 match but unfortunately my brother wasn’t a match.
While they looked for a donor I began chemo again to get rid of as much leukemia as they could so that I’d go into transplant with as little of the disease as possible. This would improve the chances of the new bone marrow being accepted by my body.
I started a pretty intensive chemo cycle. The cycle’s were much shorter then I had been used too but considerably higher doses. I also started some new strong chemo drugs which I had never had before. The treatment was 5 days of chemo with about 3 weeks of recovery, in hospital. The chemo can’t focus specifically on the leukaemia cells so therefore kills all the good blood cells along with the bad ones. This almost completely destroys the immune system, which is why recovery time is needed to keep you isolated while your body is vulnerable to infections it cant fight on its own.
This chemo was the most intense I’d had. Much worse then anything I’d had during my 3 year treatment. I had a lot of sickness, general pain and tiredness. The sickness made it impossible to eat without being sick, so I lost a lot of weight, and I felt my face and body change so much. I’d lost my hair during my previous treatments so was prepared when I lost it this time. As soon as it began to fall out in big clumps I just shaved it all off.
Once my immune system had come back to a reasonable level, doctors allowed me home for two weeks and tested to see how I’d responded to the chemo.
The results were really good and the level of leukemia in my body had been reduced to just 2% from 88% around the time I relapsed
Even at such a low level doctors wanted the leukemia percentage even lower before going into transplant, so told me they would repeat the chemo treatment I had just had.
I went back in and was given the same drugs as the month before. This time I had far less side effects. Having the chemo once already had given me a better tollerence and I was also in a much healthier state to receive the chemo as there was considerably less leukemia in my body for this cycle.
During this treatment a nurse came and told me that they’d found a bone marrow donor for my transplant. Which was a the best new’s i’d had in too long. I’d waited about 2/3 months, some people wait much longer and many people don’t ever find matching donors.
With this news I finished the last of my recovery and was sent home and told to prepare for Transplant. I’m not allowed to know the name of my donor or meet them, but I couldn’t be more grateful. It can be a big commitment, international donors (which I think mine is) have to be flown in to donate their cells, on top of hospital visits, tests and the donation itself. But this person will potentially be saving my life. To do that for someone you have never met is a huge thing.
I would urge anyone who can, to become a bone marrow donor. I’ve met so many people in hospital who are waiting for donor’s. A lot of them are my age and are looking for someone to help them out of a horrible situation.
Donors have to be between 18 and 40 and in reasonable health. It only takes a spit test to become one which is all done by post. A lot of friends and family have become donors over the last few months and they are giving something bigger and more important then anything else they could ever give.
There’s loads more information on how to donate and what it entails at
I’d appreciate everyone to at least read the website and see if it’s something that’s for you. The trouble it causes a donor is incomparable to what it means to a patient.