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Javier

Unstoppable Testimonies

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Testimonies of the struggle and overcoming of the adults and children who are Unstoppable against leukaemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma..

Javier

Donor testimonial

Hello, my name is Javier, I am 37 years old and I live in Palma de Mallorca.

When I was approached about the possibility of writing about my donation experience I did not hesitate to say yes and I hope that my words will be an encouragement to those people who have an interest or queries about this donation.

My initial motivation was my partner. One day she asked me why I didn’t become a blood and bone marrow donor and my answer was: “I’m a little wary about these kinds of things”. The truth is that I had an irrational fear of needles, I don’t know if it was due to the good fortune of always having been in very good health and not having visited a doctor – with a few exceptions. For a few days I thought I had dodged my partner’s question and had managed to avoid that “awkward” question I had been asked.

A few days later she asked me about it again, he asked me and, more specifically, he asked me if I didn’t do it because of my fear of needles. At that point I had no choice but to say yes, it was out of fear. From that moment on, the idea remained in my head for a few weeks. A number of justifications came to mind in favour of maintaining my refusal, but even more in favour of the opposite.

At work, from time to time, a bus comes by so that people who want to donate blood can do it in a more convenient manner. For a few months I saw colleagues going down to donate blood and when they came back after a while people would ask them. I was surprised by the different responses and the normality with which donors responded.

One day I decided to become a blood donor. The truth is that I felt quite nervous that day, but in the event everything went much better than I had expected. They pricked me to draw blood and to my surprise, it was a totally different experience to what I remembered or had in my head about what drawing blood felt like. I almost didn’t notice the needle and when I finished I thought that if it was always like that then I could definitely handle that.

I continued to donate blood for some time and I must say I felt great doing it. One day in the morning, I don’t know why but my mind recalled what my girlfriend had told me about bone marrow donation. After one of the blood donations, I asked out of pure curiosity what exactly was a bone marrow donation and what it consisted of. They informed me very well and also advised me to visit the Josep Carreras Foundation website where I could also see an explanatory video and detailed information about the whole process.

After getting information from the Tissue and Organ Bank and reading through the Foundation’s website for information on the subject, I reached the point where thousands of ideas and justifications for and against taking the plunge and becoming a bone marrow donor came into my head.

Finally, I decided to take the plunge and become a donor. The main reason was that one day at night I couldn’t sleep thinking about this. I was thinking about bone marrow extraction when it is not done using peripheral blood and how scared it made me feel. After a few hours tossing and turning in bed, I thought I was being scared, and at that moment, maybe there was a person who couldn’t sleep either, terrified as the days went by and no donor was found.

At that moment I thought that it wasn’t fair. We are human and what makes us human is being able see ourselves in the other person’s situation and empathise with them. So I decided I had to do it.

Rarely can so much be achieved with so little, it is almost like a miracle of science if you think about it carefully. You help the person in need and you also help that person’s family and friends in some way, right?

Maybe donating can at some point be scary, but I put myself in the shoes of the person who needs it and I can’t imagine the fear he/she might feel when he/she asks and they tell him/her that they can’t find a person who is compatible with him/her and days go by and that person is not found.  

For this reason my eyes opened wide when they called me and told me that I was compatible with a person, they told me that the donation would be by means of peripheral blood and I immediately said go ahead without any reservations.

I could only think of the person who would be desperately waiting for the doctor to tell them that there was a chance and how happy they and all the people who love them would be when they found out that they had finally located a donor and there was a chance that it could change their life forever.

I had to undergo the test to reconfirm compatibility and, in my case, it was exceptional because the veins in my arms were not good enough and I had to have a femoral catheter.

The day of the donation went very well, the catheter part was what I was most nervous about. When I arrived, the first thing they did was take me down to the haemodialysis unit for the catheter placement.

I was very nervous and I told the nurse and the doctor. I have to thank them because they were both really nice to me. The catheter was put in very quickly, the doctor gave me a local anaesthetic and in a couple of minutes it was already in place, a ten for the doctor and the nurse!

I was then taken on a stretcher to the apheresis unit. The doctor and nurses who had performed the compatibility reconfirmation tests were there. They explained how the whole process would proceed and in just a few minutes, it all began.

I don’t remember how long I was actually plugged into the machine, I think about 3 or 4 hours. As I was plugged in through the catheter, I had my arms free and the truth is that I was very comfortable, I slept for a while and then I watched a series on the tablet.

The nurses came by every so often to ask me how I was doing and to check that everything was going well. They were very attentive and friendly and even brought me some juices and biscuits because I told them I was slightly hungry. Another ten for all of them, really.

When the machine finished removing the cells, they made sure that everything was correct and in my case, as it was through a femoral catheter, I had to wait for a safety period before it was removed. After that time I was taken down to the haemodialysis unit and the catheter was removed without any discomfort.

After all this account of my experience that day and the motivations that led me to do it, I would like to thank Barbara who was the person who encouraged me to overcome my fears and who encouraged me at the beginning, making all this possible.

I would also like to thank all the staff of the Tissue and Organ Bank of Palma de Mallorca, the apheresis and haemodialysis department of the Son Espases Hospital and the Josep Carreras Foundation who have been in contact with me from start to finish.

I would like to add that when a person is asked what is the most important thing they have done in life, almost always, if they have children, they usually answer that the most important thing is to have given them life.

I believe that giving life can be the most important thing a person can do. There are doctors, policemen, firemen etc. who give their lives to save the lives of others. I am a very normal person with a normal job and, with a small gesture, I have also been able to save a life.

You may be hesitant or a little scared as I was, but think about and put yourself in the shoes of the person who needs it and you will understand why I did it.

Take the plunge and give life.

Javier  

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