Teaching assistant Fiona inspires others to save lives

Life-saving donation: Fiona Whalley is urging others to join the Anthony Nolan Trust
Life-saving donation: Fiona Whalley is urging others to join the Anthony Nolan Trust
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And now the mum-of-two, who works at Penwortham’s Priory Academy, is hoping her young charges will one day follow in her footsteps.

Fiona, 45, registered with the Anthony Nolan Trust 20 years ago and last year received a letter to say that she was a potential match for a seriously ill patient.

The mother-of-two teenagers donated stem cells and has since found out that although she’ll never know who it is, the recipient’s life has been saved.

Fiona said: “I was surprised to hear from the register after so long but I knew I would donate no matter what. Often, when people are in need of a stem cell transplant, it is their last resort - there is no other treatment option left so I never doubted wanting to help someone, even a stranger.

“Then I was delighted to get a letter from the Anthony Nolan Trust to say that my recipient is alive.”

Fiona has worked at Priory for nine years but started her working career as a staff nurse, qualifying and working in Scotland before she went to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia to work and then Prague in the Czech Republic. She came back to the UK in 1998 and now lives in Penwortham.

Fiona said: “I had registered with the Anthony Nolan Trust when I was a nurse and I was contacted by them around November last year to say I was a potential match for a seriously ill patient. I agreed to help and undertook extensive blood tests in Preston – which were sent to London – and it confirmed I was a match.

“I then travelled to the MacMillan Centre at The University College Hospital in London for a full medical towards the middle of November.

“I passed the medical and was then able to proceed to donation. Before I could donate by Peripheral Blood Stem Cell donation I had to undergo three sessions of injections at home by a nurse.”

Stem cells are present in bone marrow and these injections were to help get the cells moving out of the marrow into Fiona’s bloodstream.

She added: “In December, I travelled back to London to the MacMillan Centre to receive more injections. The next day I went to the centre to donate the stem cells - the procedure was similar to giving blood - which took about five hours. Three days later I was back in work with no problems.”

Fiona wants other people to know how easy it is to donate and help save a life. She said: “I hope that others will join the register and potentially save a stranger’s life.”

Go to www.anthonynolan.org or http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/bonemarrow for more details.

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