Donor Will gives the gift of life at Christmas

BY JAMES TWOMEY
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

Last Christmas a student received what he says was “the best Christmas present ever” – the chance to save a stranger’s life with a stem cell donation.

This Christmas, the student found out the patient who received his donation was successful, and that the patient was recovering well.

In December last year, Will Briant, 23, from Kennington, received an email that informed him he had come up as a potential match for a blood cancer patient in desperate need of a stem cell transplant.

Will said: “Just a week before Christmas, I got the best Christmas present ever. I was told that I was the best match for the patient, and I would be donating early in the new year.

“I was so excited. When you sign up you know that it’s such a tiny chance that you’ll be found as the best match for someone, so to actually be chosen felt really exciting.

“Also, because it was just before Christmas, it felt quite exciting to know that the patient would find out that they had a match just in time for Christmas.”

At the beginning of this year Will donated his stem cells at The London Clinic.

Will and Libby

Will said: ‘For four days before the donation I had a course of G-CSF injections to increase the number of stem cells I was producing.

This caused mild flu-like symptoms. I just felt a bit tired and achy really.

“The whole way through I kept thinking about the recipient and how in this context I was absolutely delighted to have mild flu-like symptoms.

“It was quite strange to be doing it for real, after talking to so many potential donors when I volunteered with Marrow at university.”

Will initially joined the Anthony Nolan stem cell register in 2014.

His girlfriend, who volunteered with Edinburgh University’s Blood, Bone Marrow and Transplant Society, which is part of blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan’s student volunteer network, called ‘Marrow’, suggested that he sign up.

Will said: “My girlfriend, Libby, told me this amazing statistic that a quarter of all stem cell donors sign up through Marrow at university, so I couldn’t not join.

“If it wasn’t for Marrow and for Libby, I wouldn’t have become a donor and given someone hope of a second chance of life just before Christmas.”

Following his donation Will then went back to his studies and his job, barely giving a second thought to what he’d just done.

Will recently received a letter from the hospital to say that the donation had been successful and the donor recipient was recovering well.

Will said: “It was honestly the best letter I’ve ever received. It was especially powerful because it really hit home that not only had I given him a second chance of life, but also I had given his wife, his children, his grandchildren and his friends more precious time with him.


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