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Declan’s donation gives patient ‘a last chance at life’

A trainee doctor from Aghyaran has given an anonymous blood cancer patient in the UK a ‘last chance at life’ by making a stem cell donation.

Declan Browne is currently in his foundation year of entering the profession and working at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, but recently made the trip to London to make the potentially life-saving donation.

Having signed up to the stem cell register via the Anthony Nolan foundation while he was studying at Queen’s University Belfast, Declan told the UH there was a high possibility of never being called to donate. However, he received the call to say he was a potential match for an ill patient early last year.

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“I’m not sure on the actual statistics, but we were told that it was very unlikely that we would ever get called to be honest,” Declan said.

“It was around the beginning of last year when Anthony Nolan got in touch to ask for more samples, as they found that I had a common type of stem cells and that I may be a match for this particular patient. From then after further research it was found that I was the best match for the patient.

“I don’t know anything about the patient, other than they have some type of blood cancer or blood disorder. At that point last year a transplant was not necessary, but something clinically must have changed with them where other treatments have not worked.

“They don’t say it’s a ‘life-saving transplant’ as they don’t know what the final outcome is going to be. But it’s sort of a last chance of life is the way they have put it to me.”

The trainee doctor travelled to the London Cancer Centre alongside his mother to go through a medical to ensure it was safe for him to donate, before returning again a number of weeks later to carry out the transplant.

“Everything was kind of slowed down by Covid, usually the whole process can be done over a day or two but it took four days overall.

“The actual donation process took around four hours and I was really well looked after by everyone over there.”

Declan said he will not be allowed to have any news about the anonymous patient until two years have passed, but he added that when he put himself in the shoes of the person’s loved ones, the decision to donate was a no-brainer.

“If someone that you knew or a family member needed a transplant as a last treatment option for blood cancer or a blood disorder, you realise how important it is at that point. It’s a very minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things; you maybe have to reschedule a couple of days and have a couple of very minor side effects for a few days from the injections.

“But in terms of what you’re giving to that person and to that family, it’s a very easy choice.”

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