Iain Stewart doesn’t have any family or friends affected by blood cancer, yet he didn’t hesitate to become a donor.
“It was a spur of the moment decision,” Iain says, adding he simply “…thought it was a good thing to do.”
When the then 30-year-old was called upon by Strength to Give he was initially shocked, knowing how low the chance of a match is. “After the shock wore off, I was stoked to have the opportunity to potentially save a life and excited to start the process.”
Iain donated peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), which is when blood-forming cells are collected from a donor’s circulating blood. The cells are then transplanted into a recipient. Nine out of 10 donations are made this way, and it’s a similar process to giving blood – simple and painless.
Ahead of the donation, Iain underwent injections to encourage his stem cells “out of their hiding spot in my bone marrow and out into my bloodstream”. He spent a day in hospital while the stem cells were being extracted. The most difficult part, he jokes, was needing to go to the toilet in the middle of it all. The process was very straightforward, and Strength to Give covered the cost of travel so Iain wasn’t out of pocket. “Aside from some bone aches and pains in the days leading up to the donation day, it was a very simple process,” Iain says.
What happened next
The software company CEO says the first few days following the donation were “pretty surreal”.
“It’s not often you get to do something like this, and the gravity of the situation really hit me. Now, when I think about it, I really look forward to the three-month update on the recipient and hope they are doing well.”
Overall, Iain couldn’t believe how easy donating was.
“Realistically, it probably took two days out of my life for all the communication, blood tests, check-ups, and the final donation.
“I had imagined prior to the process that it would be a lot more involved.”
Iain was also thrilled to arrive home to a gift basket – a small but welcome thank you from the registry. His advice to anyone considering becoming a donor is this: “At worst, you’ll get a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling; at best, you’ll get the chance to save someone’s life. What’s to lose?”
If you haven’t already, read Stewart’s story about donating bone marrow, another method to donate.