Sean’s pride at stem cell donation

Sean McGinley
Sean McGinley

A Derry medical student has told the ‘Journal’ how donating blood stem cells was ‘hugely rewarding’.

Sean McGinley, who is in the final year of a medicine degree at Queen’s University, fondly recalls the experience.

“It all happened through the Anthony Nolan organisation. I volunteered for their charity marrow and sent off a spit sample.

“It wasn’t until over a year later that I received an e-mail to say that I was a potential match.”

While the donation took place in London, Sean explained the preparation actually began in Derry.

“Before I was due to go over a nurse visited my house to give me GCSF Injections which cause the bone marrow to produce more stem cells.

“It’s different to a traditional bone marrow harvest which involves a needle being inserted into the bone,” said the local man. Despite the importance of the procedure, the trainee doctor said it was surprisingly easy.

“They hook both your arms up to a big machine.

“The blood goes out one arm then they extract the stem cells and return it back into the other arm,” he explained.

Sean praised the clinic for making the donation as comfortable as possible.

“I’d never seen anything like it before. The treatment was first class and it makes the time pass a lot quicker.”

Six months after the procedure, the student received a letter of thanks from the man whose life he had saved.

“It’s a bit over-whelming to actually see it in writing.

“They told me from the start there was a 50/50 chance it would work, so it was far from guaranteed,” he explained.

Sean said it was an experience that he would never forget and he would recommend enrolling to anyone.

“It was hugely rewarding.

“Through studying medicine and seeing how many people need such donations it makes it all worthwhile.

“I would definitely encourage others to consider signing up on the Anthony Nolan website,” he added.

With the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service coming to the Guildhall tomorrow and Thursday, spokesman Paul McElkerney encouraged new donors to attend.

“One unit of blood can help three different people.

“It only takes around 45 minutes from start to finish. It’s pain-free and you can register from the comfort of your own home, or you can do it when you visit.

“If you go to The Guildhall on Wednesday to donate you will have saved a life by Sunday,” he concluded.