Human-to-human: The greatest gift you can give
This year, B2B Ignite 2018 has chosen to support blood cancer charity, DKMS as its official charity partner. Matt Garisch explains his story and why life is the best gift you can give a human being.
Today there are very few people who are not in some way affected by the devastation that cancer inflicts, either directly or through their personal circles. This is my family story.
One of the most difficult times in my life was when we received a diagnosis. Needing a blood stem cell donor was no longer something that somebody else needed – it was something my young son, Noah, needed.
It's hard to talk about it, mainly because talking and writing about it means that I have to confront the subject head-on, and it makes the possibilities of failure, complications and success somehow more real. Needless to say, writing this blog has been a challenge.
Earlier this year, Noah was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Fanconi anaemia. It is life-limiting, it is devastating and it is brutal in equal measure. It also means that as part of his lifelong treatment he has to have a blood stem cell treatment. It's not the cure but it's a pivotal and essential part of ongoing survival.
Through our need, we discovered some scary facts. When you have a blood condition – like leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or Fanconi – your bone marrow is failing and you need to support and preserve its function with a blood stem cell transplant from a matching donor. Like in Noah’s case, it’s often the best form of treatment. Most of those affected can’t find a match in their own families, so they need to look for a public donor.
Only 0.4% of the world’s population is registered to donate, which means 40% of those children and adults looking for a donor, will never find a match. Learning those statistics was like taking a punch from Anthony Joshua. In the bollocks.
The likelihood of finding a match also decreases for those from mixed cultural backgrounds and from Asian and Black communities.
One of the main factors dissuading donors is the misperception that it's difficult or painful. However donating blood stem cells is not as scary as you might think. In 90% of cases it's a similar process to donating blood and in the other 10% only a minor procedure is needed.
The first steps to register as a blood stem cell donor is simple and takes minutes. Just swab the inside of your mouth and you’ll then go on standby. Donors should be 17-55 years old and in relatively good health.
Registering to be a donor means we have a better chance of finding a match for children and adults that have received a frightening diagnosis like blood cancer or Fanconi anaemia – and for us that means a better chance for Noah.
Our target for B2B Ignite is to register 200 potential donors and spread the word about the work DKMS is doing in helping the fight against blood cancer.
There will be a team of people who have already donated or are registered donors at Ignite on Stand 35 from 8.30am to 6pm. Please come and show us your support.
And if you do make the decision to register as a donor at Ignite, believe me, you will be giving the greatest gift one person can give to another.
We look forward to seeing you at #IgniteB2B