A grandfather of seven has donated bone marrow cells which could save another man’s life more than two decades after signing up to the donor register.
Roy Betteridge, who works for Bucks Recycling in Westcott and lives in Glimbers Grove, Chinnor, signed up to the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register 21 years ago after seeing close friends go through the pain of losing their 11-year-old son to leukaemia. After a gap of more than two decades, he got a call in October last year to say he was the perfect match for a man who is undergoing treatment for cancer of the blood.
Mr Betteridge, who lives with wife Pauline, said: “I’d forgotten that I’d signed up and I kept getting calls from an unknown number on my mobile, but I never pick up numbers I don’t recognise, I had emails from them too, but I kept thinking ‘I don’t know anyone called Anthony Nolan’, so I just ignored it, In the end, they called my wife at home and she had to tell me they were trying to get in touch with me!”
The 59-year-old, who is grandfather to seven lively grandsons aged from four months to 15, then had to attend a medical at King’s College Hospital in London before he was given the all clear to donate.Contrary to popular belief, donation is a simple painless procedure where the healthy stem cells are ‘harvested’ in just a few hours. Mr Betteridge was given an injection four days before his hospital appointment which encouraged the production of extra healthy cells, which ‘overflow’ into the blood stream, making it easy for doctors to extract the cells.
He said: “They hook you up to this machine, and your blood comes out one arm, through the machine which filters the cells out and back into your other arm.
“It doesn’t hurt at all. It took seven hours to get all the cells they needed. I don’t know anything about the person I’m helping, just that it’s a male. It’s been a real emotional rollercoaster ride. There’s someone out there dying of blood cancer, but they may have a better chance of survival because of my donation. If the transplant all goes well and the patient is healthy after two years, they can choose to make contact with me if they want to. If they wanted to see me, I would be very happy to meet up for a chat. It would be lovely.”
He said his employers have been ‘really accommodating’ in letting him have time off to donate.
Mr Betteridge says he hopes his story will encourage more people to consider signing up to the register. Just 5,495 people in Bucks are signed up to the Anthony Nolan register, so the charity are always encouraging more people to join and save more lives.