Local MP, David Rutley, learned how “cheeky swabs” can play a vital role in the fight against blood cancer when he recently met Pete McCleave, blood cancer patient, and Louise Clague, Donor Recruitment Manager at DKMS, blood cancer charity.
Pete McCleave, 43, who lives in Cheshire, was given 7 years to live having been diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer, myeloma, in 2017. Since then, he has been working with DKMS to find a matching blood stem cell donor and to raise awareness of the stem cell register. To date he has encouraged over 55,000 people to register with DKMS, 16 of whom have been confirmed matches for blood cancer patients.
During the meeting, Louise explained how cheek swabs are vital in identifying these matches and, as a result, help save many lives. Swabs are taken from the inside of an individual’s cheek and sent back to DKMS’s laboratory for analysis to determine the person’s human leukocyte antigen (tissue) characteristics. Once the samples have been analysed, the donor is added to a register which shows that they are available to help patients and life-saving matches can be identified. People can register online and have the swabs sent to their homes. More details about how to register as a potential donor can be found here: www.dkms.org.uk/pete
Blood cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK, but less than half of the UK population is aware of blood cancer issues. World Blood Cancer Day on 28th May provides a great opportunity to highlight the pressing need to raise awareness of the stem cell register. People living with blood cancer and blood disorders need support now more than ever and local residents can show their support by helping spread the word on social media or register as a potential donor.
DKMS is a global not-for-profit organisation that started in Germany in 1991 around one family’s search for a donor. Dr. Peter Harf founded DKMS in honour of his wife Mechtild, who had sadly lost her battle with blood cancer. Today, DKMS operates in Germany, USA, Poland, Chile, India, and South Africa, as well as the UK. In the UK, DKMS has registered over 840,000 blood stem cell donors to date and helped to give over 1,299 people a second chance of life.
Speaking after the meeting, David said, “I strongly support the life-saving work of DKMS and welcome their ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the stem cell register. Many people, like Pete, need to find a matching blood stem cell donor. Taking a “cheeky swab” will help expand the register of potential donors and increase the chance of finding a matching donor. With World Blood Cancer Day next month, I hope many local residents will help raise awareness about this important initiative and take part by getting a swab.”