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SPEN Linesman gives blood cancer patient vital lifeline

09/10/2017

A Linesman from our North Wales district has given an American woman he doesn’t know and has never met a remarkable gift of hope by donating his blood stem cells to her.

Jay Churchman, 21, signed up to an international blood cancer charity two years ago after the charity visited one of our depots to encourage people to join the register.

And when the Llandudno-based line engineer got a phone call saying he was a matching blood stem cell donor for a cancer patient battling for survival thousands of miles away in the USA, he didn’t hesitate to help.

The match has now led to Jay travelling to a clinic for a five-hour procedure to donate vital stem cells for the woman’s treatment.

Jay received the call to say that he might be able to save a life nearly two years after he first joined colleagues on the stem cell register organised by DKMS, an international blood cancer charity.

Jay attended the registration event as a young boy from Liverpool was desperately searching for his blood stem cell donor, but knew that they could potentially be a lifesaver for other blood cancer patients looking for their match.

Jay provided a swab taken from the inside of his mouth which provided vital genetic information and his details were added to the UK Aligned Stem Cell Registry.

In the event, Jay was not required to give stem cells for the boy as another match was found.

Jay said: “We were all pleased, and I didn’t think about still being on the register.”

Then, two years after signing up, Jay recently got a phone call from a number he didn’t immediately recognise.

“I got this phone call from a London number and I thought ‘here we go, another PPI claim cold call’ but I answered anyway.

“It was a great surprise to be told I was a potential match for a woman in America.”

It was confirmed that Jay was an ideal donor for the female patient and he donated his blood stem cells through a peripheral blood stem cell donation. It required him being hooked up to a machine which removed some blood, filtered out his stem cells, then replaced his blood again.

“It was painless,” he said. “It took about five hours and I felt fine throughout.”

The full identity of the transplant recipient will remain anonymous for a two year period.

Jay has the opportunity to find out more about her and in the meanwhile he will receive regular updates about her progress.

Our North Wales District Manager Andy Churchman, who happens to be Jay’s father, said: “I’m very proud as a father and manager that my son registered as a potential lifesaver along with a large proportion of SP Energy Networks staff.”

“Jamie is, by nature, a very selfless person, always happy to go the extra mile and help others and we hope and pray it works and that this lady returns to good health in as soon as possible.

Claire Jeffrey, donor request co-ordinator at DKMS said: “We are grateful to people like Jay for taking time out of their busy schedule to register as a potential lifesaver. Every 20 minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer and sometimes a patient’s best chance of survival is to receive a blood stem cell donation.

“Jay has helped to give someone a second chance of life. You could register for your home swab kit at www.dkms.org.uk and go on standby to save a life.”

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