Leeds woman who gave gift of life to blood cancer patient in donor register plea

Ewelina Szaja of BramleyEwelina Szaja of Bramley
Ewelina Szaja of Bramley
A woman who gave the gift of life to a blood cancer patient  during lockdown is urging more people to register to donate stem cells.

Ewelina Szaja, 27, of Bramley, is backing Blood Cancer charity DKMS as it appeals for more people to sign up during Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September.

The charity said there is set to be an influx of new blood cancer cases caused by a delay in diagnosis due to Covid-19.

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A total of 1,330 people have signed up to the register in Leeds so far in 2020 - up from 780 in 2019 - but more potential donors are needed.

DKMS said many potential donors are not aware that around 90 per cent of stem cell donations are made through a process similar to blood donation.

Ewelina said: “When I first found out I could be someone’s match I was worried a little bit because I didn’t know how the process worked.

"Once the process was explained to me by DKMS and I had conducted my own research I felt at peace.

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"Donating during lockdown was a little tricky as I had to travel down to Sheffield and I live in Leeds, but it was really a small price to pay to save someone’s life.

"My advice to anyone looking into DKMS is definitely register, it’s nothing to be scared of.

"It only takes a few days of your life and you can really help someone.

"The impact you could have on another family is immeasurable at such a small cost to yourself.”

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Only one in three people with blood cancer and in need of a transplant will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family.

The charity recently challenged 1,000 people from across the UK on their knowledge and awareness of blood stem cell donation.

A total of 71 per cent said they thought the donation process was invasive and 52 per cent said they believed the process was difficult and painful.

DKMS said that around 90 per cent of all stem cell donations are made through a method called peripheral blood stem cell, which is similar to the process of giving blood.

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Blood is taken from one of the donor’s arms and a machine extracts the blood stem cells from it.

The donor’s blood is then returned to them through their other arm during an outpatient procedure that is usually completed in four to six hours.

Jonathan Pearce, chief Executive of DKMS UK, said: “Knowing that the reason a lot of people haven’t registered as a blood stem cell donor is due to misunderstanding is in some way positive.

"It means this Blood Cancer Awareness Month we have an opportunity to drive lifesaving action by simply shouting about how straightforward, yet vital the blood stem cell donation process is."

To sign up, go to www.dkms.org.uk/en/bcam2020

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