Stem cell donor encouraging others to follow his example

MYTH BUSTING Andrew Ewens wants to get more people to donate stem cells
MYTH BUSTING Andrew Ewens wants to get more people to donate stem cells

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A marketing assistant from Portsmouth who donated stem cells to blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan is now urging others to do the same.

Andrew Ewens made the donation in February 2012 in a bid to save the life of a patient in desperate need of a stem cell transplant.

I encourage others to donate because you could save someone’s life or give them an extra few months with their families, knowing that when you receive the letter makes you feel great

Andrew Ewens

Now, the 36-year-old is hoping to inspire more potential lifesavers to join the Anthony Nolan register by dispelling some of the myths about the procedure.

Andrew said: ‘Many people believe donating stem cells is very painful when actually, like myself, most donors find the process to be easy and comfortable.

‘It was pain-free, and all the way through the donation there were doctors and nurses around, who you could talk to and ask questions.’

Another myth surrounding stem cell donation is people thinking you have to have surgery to donate, but Anthony Nolan says that nine times out of 10 the stem cells are collected through the blood, in a simple outpatient procedure similar to giving blood.

This involves sitting for about four hours while a machine withdraws blood from one arm, separates the stem cells, and then returns the blood through the other arm.

In 10 per cent of cases the stem cells are taken from the bone marrow in the hip under general anaesthetic and you would usually be back at work within a week.

Andrew says: ‘I had no after-effects, but every year they contact you to make sure you’re okay.

‘I encourage others to donate because you could save someone’s life or give them an extra few months with their families. Knowing that when you receive the letter makes you feel great.’

The charity states that someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every 20 minutes, and around 2,000 people in the UK need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant from a stranger each year.

To join the register, you must be aged between 16 and 30, weigh more than 7st 12lbs (50kg), and be in general good health.

For more information visit 
anthonynolan.org.