A Derry man who donated his bone marrow to a three year-old child in France almost ten years ago has urged local people to get their name on the blood cancer register.
David Houston said he was moved by the story of Patrick Byrnes which we printed in last Tuesday’s ‘Derry Journal’. Patrick’s wife Nicola who has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia needs a bone marrow transplant urgently.
Her best chance of a match is from a sibling, but as Nicola has no brothers and sisters her only hope is finding a match on the blood cancer register.
As yet no match has been found and her family have set about increasing awareness to get more names on the register.
“Being a bone marrow donor is easier than going to the dentist,” said David Houston. “I mean that. It was the best thing that ever happened to me in my life bar the birth of my two children. To get the chance to save someone else’s life in unbelievable. I’d do it again tomorrow if I was matched with someone else.”
The Derry man revealed he first joined the register following the death of his friend, Patrick Coyle, who also had leukaemia.
“I was on the register for eight years before I got a call to say I had been matched,” said David. “It’s all a lot more simple now. People signing up used to have to go and get bloods done, but now all they need is saliva to test you.”
He says that during the whole procedure he was treated like royalty.
“I remember being wheeled in and a guy standing wearing a motorbike helmet,” he said. “He was the courier, once they got my bone marrow they had to get it away as soon as possible. They asked me I wanted to know anymore about the donor,” said David. “But I decided not to. I’ve thought about it a couple of times, but there’s a down side to that as I well. I was happy with what I had done.
“I don’t want any glory for what I did, I just want to encourage other people to sign up.
“I’m a maths tutor and hope some of the young people I teach see this and sign up. There’s no pain, going to the dentist is worse, even the thought of going to the dentist is worse.
“If I had a choice between doing this or winning the lotto, I’d do this again.
“It’s such a humbling experience.”