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FF's Donation Helped Save Life of U.S. Family Man

FF's Donation Helped Save Life of U.S. Family Man

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BBC News via YellowBrix

July 29, 2010

SOUTH WALES, UK – A firefighter who donated his bone marrow to a total stranger has received transatlantic news that he helped save the life of a US family man.

Jeff Samuel underwent one and a half hours of surgery to harvest bone marrow from his pelvis and had to take a week’s leave from his job as watch manager at Cefn Fforest Fire Station, totally unaware if the procedure would be worthwhile.

All Jeff knew at the time of the operation last October was that there was a 59-year-old man from the USA who needed his help as he was desperately ill with acute leukaemia.

But recently the father of four received a letter from the recipient and his family, via the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry, saying that the patient was doing well and would probably make a full recovery.

Jeff, 48, who lives in Penpedairheol with his wife Marina, an ambulance technician, said: “It was great as I realised then that it had all been worthwhile.

“The man told me he had gone into remission after his first course of chemotherapy.

“He then went on to say how the operation had been a success and the bone marrow donation was a 10 out of 10 match.

“He also thanked me for saving his life and said his wife and five children would be eternally grateful.

“His wife’s letter was also filled with emotion and started off with the words: ‘It’s hard to express the gratitude that I feel for your selfless donation to my husband, saying thank you seems insufficient.’ She went on to tell me the impact the donation had made on their lives, especially their five children aged between 18 and 31.

“And she ended saying, ‘We hope to meet you some day, if you desire, and welcome you to our home, for now I am thankful for your selfless generosity.’

Although Jeff is still unaware of the man’s identity due to strict confidentiality guidelines by the Welsh Bone Marrow Registry, he hopes to meet the American patient and his family.

He said he did not want thanks, just the knowledge he has made a difference. He is now urging others to do the same.

Jeff, who had been on the registry for 10 years, said: “We’ve lost family to cancer and friends and work colleagues have lost people to cancer, so it was great to give someone a chance.

“I would like to think that if anything happened to my immediate family, someone would do the same for them.

“It’s just proof that one person can make a difference so I would urge anyone to sign up and donate.”

Tracy Sampson, publicity and marketing manager at the Welsh Blood Service, of which the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry is a part, said: “Thousands of patients hope for a bone marrow donor who can make their life-saving transplant possible.

“Each time a suitable match is found one of our stem cell donor managers will meet a donor who is willing to save the life of someone they’ve never met.

“Not all, but some, patients like to thank the donor in a more personal way and for some people hearing how the patient is progressing can highlight the importance of their anonymous gift.

“Without doubt, more donors are needed to join our registry so we can continue to provide hope for patients throughout the world.”