National Transplant Week: Ben Pott's Donor Story

National Transplant Week is an annual campaign held every July ( that aims to educate people about the benefit of organ and tissue donation, and tackle the ‘I'll do it later’ mindset. To mark National Transplant Week, Kent-Teach would like to share Ben Pott's story a good friend of the team who did something heroic to save a life.

Here is Ben's story:

"In a nutshell, I donated stem cells from my bone marrow to help a Leukemia patient. I don't know who they are, or anything about them, all I know is that I was a match and I could potentially save their life. 

I had thought about signing onto the British Bone Marrow Register before, so at a regular blood donation in July 2013, I picked up a leaflet and spoke to the nurse about it. I completed the registration, gave a few extra vials of blood than usual, and that was that – my record was created! People can actually join Anthony Nolan’s register by providing a saliva sample. They tell you not to expect to hear anything, as most people are not called as a match, however in January 2014 I received a letter stating that I was a suitable match, which was really lucky for my patient, as the chances of finding a potential donor at all is only 50%.

I provided four further blood samples and sent them to the lab for tissue typing. I was told to expect to hear in about 12 weeks so it was a massive surprise when Anthony Nolan contacted me only three weeks later, thanking me for my help and to tell me I was a match! We agreed some provisional dates for the stem cell donation or ‘harvest’ to take place and asked me to attend for a full medical to check that I was mentally and physically well to proceed. I passed and we confirmed the dates for donating my stem cells.

Anthony Nolan was incredibly supportive. They talked to me about what the procedure entails, and sent lots of useful information for me to read, so that I knew exactly what to expect. Everyone was truly helpful and happy along the way; from the first nurse I met who took my blood, to Darren my donation coordinator at Anthony Nolan and the outreach workers who visited my bed during the procedure. Everyone was just so grateful and appreciative.

A ‘Healthcare at Home’ nurse then visited me at work to administer the *G-CSF drug, which told my bones to release the necessary stem cells into my bloodstream.

On the following Saturday and Sunday another nurse visited me at home and on the Monday I travelled to the London Clinic for my final dose of G-CSF. There were twelve injections in total across the weekend. On the Tuesday I went back to the clinic donation centre to start the harvesting of stem cells. It was weird to think that while I was being prepped for donation; my matching recipient was under-going a huge dose of chemotherapy in order to prepare their body for receiving my stem cells.

The donation involved needles in both arms, so blood went out of my right arm, into a separator to collect the stem cells into a bag, and the rest pumped back into my left arm. To anybody who has ever donated blood, it feels no different and took around four hours. Once it’s over, they unplugged me. One of the only side effects they anticipate is a tingly feeling in the nose and lips due to a temporary calcium deficiency brought on by the procedure, I got this so they gave me chewable calcium pills and ice-cream! They observed me for an hour to check if I was ok, provided me with food and then looked at the results of the donation to see how many cells were harvested. If they need more cells, you go back the next day for the same procedure, but as I gave away 7.2 million cells, when they only needed 4 million, I just went back to the hotel for a well-earned nap!

It has now been over a year since I donated and I have found out from Anthony Nolan that the transplant was a success and the patient is doing well!

Although I know it’s kind of a big deal, it doesn't feel like it to me. I just wanted to help and I’m really thankful that the odds worked in the patient's’ favour! It’s funny, because some people don't understand why I would do this for a stranger, instead of someone I know, but you can't think like that, you never know when your life, or the life of someone you love, might depend on a gift from a stranger."

We want to thank Ben for sharing his wonderful story with Kent-Teach. Anthony Nolan is the UK’s blood cancer charity and bone marrow register. Find out more about bone marrow (or stem cell) transplants and donation at 

*G-CSF - People who donate their stem cells via peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection receive injections of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) before their donation. This increases the amount of blood stem cells they produce, and encourages the cells to move from their bone marrow to their circulating blood.
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