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The London Clinic is proud to be the only independent hospital to provide bone marrow stem cell collection and a harvesting centre for Anthony Nolan. One donor, Luke Cox, tells his story of donating.

Luke joined the Anthony Nolan register at a time when he was a relatively carefree student. His close friend’s father was dying from leukaemia, and his grandmother had recently passed away from the same disease. Luke thought the gesture itself held importance.

It was 10 years before an appropriate recipient was identified and Luke was called for blood tests. Luke explained; “As we waited for the results, my partner was able to talk to a haematologist to discuss her concerns. I hate needles. Which is crackers, because I work as a nurse in A&E!”

The blood tests came back as a match for someone suffering from leukaemia. Luke explains; “This was the first time I really made the connection between the process I’d been going through and the person on the other side, and it made me determined to go through with it.” Luke’s case co-ordinator at Anthony Nolan said they’d like to schedule a donation, and the method of choice would be peripheral stem-cell harvest. This started with a medical check-up at The London Clinic. Luke explained; “The environment at The London Clinic and the happy, professional staff put me at ease. Even for the dreaded blood tests I was installed on a comfy reclining couch with a cup of coffee.”

Shortly after, Luke had a date for donation scheduled. For four days prior he received injections of a hormone, which stimulated the white blood cells to move from his bone marrow into his bloodstream. Two of these he had at home, and two at work.

Luke then went back to The London Clinic for the donation itself. He explained; “I had the fluttery, needle-hating feeling in my stomach persisting until they actually put one in. When, in the end, it wasn’t too bad at all, and very professionally done. The big shiny needle, the one bit I had been really worried about, went in with no problems, a testament to the skill of the senior nurse who put it in. The nurses were brilliant; always on-hand, and they all seemed confident and happy, which in turn made me feel the same.”

Towards the end of the procedure, a friend turned up to visit Luke. It was the same friend whose father had been dying of leukaemia all those years ago. Luke then saw that what he was doing really meant something to him. Luke explained; “One of the other donor’s relatives said we were all heroes.

It is something I’ve heard a few times since. It still doesn’t really feel like that. My gesture would be futile without the experience and skill of all the other people involved in the chain. So the next time I’m called a hero I’d like to pass it on to all the staff at The London Clinic and at Anthony Nolan and to anyone involved in the care and treatment of leukaemia, because it’s a badge you’ve worked so much harder to earn.”

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