‘Life saving’ stem cell donor unit opens at this Sheffield hospital

A specialist medical unit in Sheffield is now enabling more people to help save lives all over the world.

By Rochelle Barrand
Friday, 31 May, 2019, 11:24
Stem cell donor James Moore at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, pictured with Laura Green. Picture: Sean Spencer 07976 433960

The NHS Blood and Transplant Therapeutic Apheresis Services (TAS) unit, based within Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has become the first unit in the country to provide collection centre services for donors from all three stem cell and bone marrow registries operating in England.

The latest partner is DKMS, a blood cancer charity registering potential blood stem cell donors aged between 17 and 55.

Stem cells are used to help save the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders.

The TAS unit, which specialises in state-of-the art treatments for rare diseases, is now the only NHS centre in England that provides services for donors from the British Bone Marrow Registry, Anthony Nolan, and DKMS.

 James Moore, aged 26, was the first person to donate through the partnership. 

He donated at the NHSBT TAS unit, which is based in The Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

He was then on the registry for a few years before being identified as a match for someone in need,  but is urging others to take the first step and register as potential blood stem cell donor and go on standby to help save a life.

He said: “To be identified as a potential match for someone and to go on and donate my blood stem cells to help save their life is such an exciting experience and one that I will never forget.

“What better gift can you give then the gift of life?”

NHS Blood and Transplant Nurse Practitioner Laura Green was the nurse in charge of James’ donation.

Laura said: “The donation went really smoothly. We already take donations from the British Bone Marrow Registry and from Anthony Nolan, so this was exciting because it was the first donation from a registry for us to work with, DKMS.”

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 Stem cell and bone marrow donations are collected to support people who have blood disorders and cancers such as leukaemia and require a lifesaving stem cell transplant.

The donations made in Sheffield are used to support people both within the UK and across the world.

Prior to establishing the NHSBT service in Sheffield, donors from across the city needed to travel to London or other locations to make their donation and give someone else a second chance at life.

The new partnership between NHSBT and DKMS ensures that registry donors in England are able to donate their blood stem cells in a centre close to their home.

Each year around 400 patients can’t have this potentially lifesaving treatment because there’s not a suitable donor. 

 NHSBT and DKMS hope to increase the number of donors available to people in need of a blood stem cell transplant. 

The new partnership helps widen the donor base and get a step closer to providing a donor to those patients needing a transplant.

Catherine Howell, NHSBT Chief Nurse Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services, said: “For some patients, a stem cell transplant is the only hope of survival and if a family member is not a match, patients reply on the generosity of strangers.

“By working together with DKMS and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals we hope to increase the number of donors available to people and save more lives.”

Stem cell transplants are used to treat a wide range of blood cancers and disorders. For some people, a stem cell transplant is the only hope of survival.