Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer such as Leukaemia, Lymphoma or Myeloma.
For some, the condition can be treated with extensive chemotherapy, and for others a relative can provide a stem cell donation.
West Londoner Tim Potter, who was adopted as a child, is wholly dependent upon finding a non-related donor and is aided in his search by the blood cancer charity DKMS.
Mr Potter, 53, has endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy since he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in October 2016, but doctors believe his best chance of survival is now a blood stem cell transplant.
Mr Potter said: “The only cure that is possible for my Stage 4B non-Hodgkin lymphoma, currently in remission as of March 2018, is an allograft with stem cells of a closely matched unrelated donor.
“Finding a donor is the only way forward for a potential cure. At the moment my disease is being controlled by Thalidomide. However, this is not a cure.”
Mr Potter was first admitted to St Thomas’ A&E in 2016 with symptoms of extreme tiredness, nausea and a sudden visible lump in his chest and has been searching for a suitable donor since August 2017.
Prior to his diagnosis Mr Potter thrived in the trading and banking sector with a passion for theatre and travel, but the cancer and its treatment have hindered his career and everyday life.
He said: “In particular even now I am able to travel but cannot obtain cost-effective travel insurance necessary for peace of mind, even to Europe. My risk is thought to be too high.”
Unable to find a donor through his hospital’s search, Mr Potter reached out to DKMS who he said seemed more proactive in reaching out to new potential donors.
DKMS was established in Germany in 1991 and continues to grow internationally, with its UK branch established in 2013.
The charity is committed to the fight against blood cancer with a mission to provide a matching donor for every blood cancer patient in need of a blood stem cell donation.
Lisa Nugent, head of donor recruitment at DKMS, said: “In the last 27 years we have given more than 69,000 people a second chance of life. Here in the UK, in the last five years, there have been more than 400 second chances at life.”
Each year around 2000 people in the UK have to search outside their family unit for a donor.
Ms Nugent said: “The challenge is finding that person who is the match for a patient like Tim.
“When they are looking to find a match, there is actually more than 17,000 different characteristics that they are looking at and these can occur in a variety of combinations. So, it almost becomes a bit of a lottery to try and find someone who has that same combination that you need.”
She added: “As a charity, DKMS and others are doing what we can to raise awareness of blood cancer and a lot of people get on board when they hear about how it can be treated. But it is just educating people in the first instance.”
Registration as a potential donor is simple and more information can be found at https://www.dkms.org.uk/en/register-now .
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