Stem cell hero tackles London marathon

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A Lochgilphead firefighter will run the London Marathon to raise money for a blood cancer charity – two years after his stem cells saved a man’s life.

Dad-of-two David MacInnes, aged 32, is taking on the gruelling challenge to raise awareness of much-needed stem cell donations.

David, a firefighter based in Oban, put himself on the Anthony Nolan register after one of his friends lost a cousin to Leukaemia.

After registering, his DNA was matched with a male adult who had been diagnosed with the devastating blood cancer.

The patient received David’s stem cells after suffering a relapse following chemotherapy. He is now believed to be in remission.

David has been in contact with the man who received his donation, however Anthony Nolan charity policy is that the all correspondence must remain anonymous for two years.

In a moving letter written to David, the anonymous recipient said: ‘I can do most normal things with our children again; kick a ball, take them out, help them with homework – all things that are now so precious to us. I hope one day someone in our family can help someone in need as you have.’

The letter sits on David’s beside table as a reminder of his selfless donation, and how it has saved the life of another.

David was called up to donate his stem cells in October 2015. He recalled: ‘When they phoned me up you could tell the urgency behind it. They said to me: ‘You are the best match. Can you be in London in two days time?

‘I am running the marathon for this charity because I think more awareness is needed for Anthony Nolan, which has saved the lives of so many.

‘I am hoping to hold a few fundraisers in Lochgilphead leading up to the marathon in April, and there are a number of sponsor sheets dotted around the town.

‘In six days I have received over £300 in donations which is amazing. I am aiming to raise over £1,000 for the charity by March, before I complete the run.’

David is dispel myths surrounding stem cell donation. He explained: ‘Donating stem cells involves being given hormone tablets to increase the amount of stem cells the body produces.

‘Patients are then hooked up to a machine that collects the stem cells from the blood. The blood that has been removed is then pumped back into the body.’

Anthony Nolan is currently fronting a campaign to tackle stigma against donating stem cells. According to the charity, fear prevents one in three people from registering for stem cell donation.

‘The whole procedure was pretty relaxed to be honest. Doctors encourage you to watch DVDs and to bring an iPad to keep you occupied.’

David’s procedure lasted for around four hours. Apart from moderate flu-like symptoms from the hormones he received, he was back at work within a few days.

To donate to David go to justgiving.com/fundraising/david-macinnes.

There are also sponsorship forms in Lochgilphead’s book shop, Fyne Tackle, Marmalade, KC Fashion and the Rumblin’ Tum in Ardrishaig.