Lawrence T
Posted by

Meeting the man who saved my life

Lawrence T
Posted by
05 Apr 2016

Over Easter I met up with my donor, Max, for the very first time four years after he agreed to donate his stem cells which have given me a second chance at life after Hodgkin lymphoma.

Max flew all the way from Germany to come and stay and I was extremely nervous but excited about meeting him as Max is the only reason I'm still here. An unrelated stem cell transplant really was my last resort after all other treatment options had failed since my original diagnosis in July 2005.

Ironically I had responded really well to the initial 16 week course of chemotherapy and follow up radiotherapy. However I relapsed in December 2006 and had to undergo an autologous stem cell transplant where the doctors looked to destroy all my unhealthy cells and replaced them with my own healthy stem cells. Unfortunately this didn't work either.

Over the next couple of years I suffered infection after infection getting shingles, pneumonia and even swine flu. I was a very ill man and at times I felt like giving up especially after my sister, Ann, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. Her prognosis was not good and for me it was stem cell transplant or bust.

After an extensive search of the worldwide register by the Welsh Blood Service there was only one match - Max! He was literally a one in a million shot, a needle in a haystack and that's why I was so nervous about finally meeting him despite having regularly corresponded via letter.

When I picked Max up from the airport I was immediately taken aback by his size. He's 6ft 4 and in the pinnacle of health - I can now see why I'm well again! 

He was lovely and just as excited about meeting up as I was. He's also as passionate as I am about raising awareness of blood cancer, bone marrow donors and the incredible work that the Welsh Blood Service and charities like Bloodwise do.

Over the course of the week we've visited the Welsh Blood Service, the unit where I had my bone marrow transplant and done a number of interviews with the press which are great for raising awareness. Here's a video of an interview that Max and I did with Wales Online:

No visit to Wales would have been complete without a visit to the Wales Rugby Stadium and the hills where I go cycling which I think Max enjoyed. It was absolutely fantastic to meet him and I cannot thank him enough for joining the bone marrow register.

It's left me more determined than ever to raise awareness and Max and I are now campaigning to get more people to sign up to become bone marrow donors. I'm also hoping to take part in this year's London to Paris for Bloodwise to help raise money to fund further research.

To anyone who is thinking of becoming a donor - just register. Even if the odds are overwhelming, I am proof that you can survive!

Visit the Anthony Nolan, Delete Blood Cancer or the Bone Marrow Registry websites to find out more about becoming a bone marrow donor. 

Watch Lawrence's interview with ITV News


Eleanor Baggley

What an inspiring story! Thank you for sharing this with us, Laurence. Best wishes, Eleanor

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