Sam donates stem cells in ‘10,000 people’ appeal to register with DKMS and beat blood cancer
- Credit: DKMS
Sam Schmidt is undergoing a life-saving transplant procedure today to donate some of his stem cells after being successfully matched with a blood cancer patient.
The 24-year-old accounts manager from Limehouse has finally been found compatible for a patient in a worldwide search after registering with a stem cell charity a year ago.
He is having the treatment in the London Clinic today (April 28), but knows nothing about the patient he is helping because of anonymity laws.
“It was strange being tested due to Covid-19 as everyone had to wear masks and gloves,” Sam said before being admitted. “I’m a bit nervous, but also feel so lucky to have the chance potentially to save someone’s life and help a family.”
He registered with the DKMS charity, known as ‘We Delete Blood Cancer’, when he moved to Narrow Street last year from west London.
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Sam was inspired after learning about 42-year-old Peter McCleave in Cheshire, a father of two young boys who was diagnosed with blood cell cancer after running a triathlon and given seven years to live. He later met Peter during a campaign presentation and decided to register.
“It’s a good deed you can do while still observing social distancing,” Sam points out. “I can’t imagine how powerless families still waiting for a donor must feel, hoping and relying on people to register.”
Peter, meanwhile, has launched a worldwide search for blood cell donors with his own “10,000 donors” campaign while still waiting for his own match.
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He was thrilled to learn about Sam’s operation to donate stem cells and told the East London Advertiser: “Just to know I had a small influence is humbling. Sam shows our campaign is having an impact, changing people’s lives.”
But Peter admits his search is up against a genetically diverse population through generations of migrations, making it difficult finding an exact match.
“The numbers are out there,” the investment banker tells you. “But finding a match is like looking for that needle in a heystack.”
Peter has attracted 45,000 potential donors to register with the DKMS Foundation online. Stem cells regenerate within two weeks, so donors don’t lose anything, the foundation points out.
The charity was launched in Germany in 1991 when Dr Peter Harf began a search for a donor for his wife who later lost her battle with blood cancer. It now operates in four other countries including the UK, with 10 million potential donors, 650,000 in Britain alone.
But sign-ups are down by a staggering 50pc compared to this time last year because of the Coronavirus lock-down.
Donor Registration can be made with DKMS online.