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St Helena Online

The St Helena report and the gap in media

Saint ‘desperate’ for bone marrow donor

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A plea has gone out to St Helenians in the UK in an attempt to find a bone marrow donor for an islander who’s now in hospital in Southampton.

‘We have looked over the world,’ says an unnamed transplant nurse in a front-page appeal in the St Helena Independent. None of the 12 million donors on international registries have provided a match for the St Helena patient.

‘I am looking into the possibility of trying to find her a donor from St Helena who lives in the UK. There is a higher probability we will find a match if we are able to test people from St Helena.

‘It is very difficult to test people who live on the island but I know there are people in Swindon who come from St Helena originally and I hope they may be able to help.

‘Time is of the essence so we need to try and find someone for this lady as soon as we can.’

Anyone willing to consider donating needs to to join the Anthony Nolan Register. ‘It is really easy, just a short questionnaire,’ says the trust nurse. ‘They will get in the post a “spit kit”
so that their tissue type can be tested. Then they will be on the register and might be able to help my patient.”

Expenses are paid to donors, including for lost earnings.

The transplant is needed to boost the patient’s supply of blood stem cells, which are produced in the marrow in the centre of large bones. They go on to fight infection, or transport oxygen to organs and tissues, and cleanse waste from them. They can also form platelets, which stop bleeding.

There are two methods of donating.

One involves a two-night stay in hospital, with cells being extracted under general anaesthetic by sterile needle, without the need for a surgical incision. The blood stem cells replace themselves within 21 days.

The other involves a series of injections over several days, but with no need to stay in hospital. This method can cause flu-like symptoms, but only briefly.

Anyone wanting to know more can email or visit the Anthony Nolan website.

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