Bone marrow donor urges others to make life-saving donations
A HULL father is urging people to help save lives by becoming a bone marrow donor.
Alex Summers, 33, donated five years ago and is now encouraging other Mail readers to get involved.
The charity Anthony Nolan helps save the lives of blood cancer patients by matching them to potential bone marrow donors.
Alex found out about the charity when a representative visited his former workplace.
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He said: "I was working at British Aerospace in Brough when someone came in to speak to us about donations and was looking for people to go on the register.
"I put my name down, gave a bit of blood and then a few years later they contacted me saying they had found a possible match."
Alex, father of four-year-old twin daughters Alexis and Olivia, was asked to travel to London to make his donation.
Like 90 per cent of donation cases, he had a procedure similar to giving blood.
He said: "I had a few needles and then that was it. It only took a few hours but it was tiring.
"Unfortunately, six months later, I received a letter saying the donation hadn't worked and the recipient had passed away. It broke my heart and I was in tears.
"Although I never met them or knew anything about them, I felt some sort of bond.
"I felt awful, but I know I at least gave them a few more months of life."
Despite the fact the procedure didn't work, Alex is still a strong supporter of Anthony Nolan and donating bone marrow.
He said: "Since my donation, I have raised two children and have a third on the way.
"I would hope that, heaven forbid, if my children, friends or family needed a bone marrow donation in the future, there would be a match found to help them.
"The more people there are on the register, the more chance there is to find a match.
"I would happily do it again."
Anthony Nolan is keen to get more people on its register, so patients can find matches quicker.
Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer, which equates to 70 people every day.
There are nearly 1,600 people in the UK in need of a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant.
A donation is usually their last chance of survival.
About 70 per cent of patients will not find a matching donor within their family and instead need to contact Anthony Nolan for help.
The charity provides three potentially lifesaving transplants every day, but for every patient it helps, there is another who sadly does not find a match.
Ann O'Leary, head of register development, said: "We desperately need young men, like Alex, to join the bone marrow register.
"The more people on our register, the more lives we can save.
"Unfortunately, in some cases, the donation process is not successful but we're carrying out pioneering research into transplant outcomes so that one day we can save the lives of everyone who needs a bone marrow transplant."
For more details, or to sign up to the register, visit www.anthonynolan.org or call 0303 303 0303.