Swansea stem cell donor's pride at giving stranger a shot at survival
A STEM cell donor from Swansea has spoken of his pride at giving an American stranger a shot at survival.
Ross Johns' stem cells, which can grow into any other blood cells such as oxygen-carrying red ones and infection-fighting white ones, were flown to the States to help a sick 47-year-old.
Ross said he knew nothing about the patient, although it is probable that he or she is suffering from leukaemia — a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
Mr Johns, who was a match for the stranger's tissue type, said: "I'm really proud, but I don't feel as if I have done anything extraordinary. It is a lovely feeling walking out of the hospital knowing I had potentially saved a life."
The story began when Ross gave blood seven years ago at Gorseinon College and agreed to be added to the bone marrow register. He heard nothing until May 1 this year when the Welsh Blood Service asked him to get in touch urgently. It quickly transpired he was a potential match.
"I jumped at the chance," he said.
Uppermost in his thoughts was his friendship with the late Jen Richards, of Pontlliw, who died in 2011 aged 23 after being diagnosed with small cell cancer, a rare and aggressive form of the disease. Ross attended Pontarddulais Comprehensive School and Gorseinon College with Jen.
"The way she dealt with her illness was truly inspirational," he said.
Ross, a customer service adviser at Virgin Atlantic in Swansea, had to have a series of tests to further prove his suitability.
"A nurse then came to my house for four days and gave me injections which made my bone marrow over-produce stem cells," he said. "On the fifth day I went to St Joseph's Hospital, Newport, where a machine took blood from one arm and then returned it to the other one. It took about six-and-a-half hours, and it was quite uncomfortable."
The machine removed the all-important stem cells before they headed off to the US.
Ross, who lives off New Cut Road, said he would love to hear from the recipient. But he has been advised that the recipient might not survive.
"Hopefully I will get feedback," he said. "I would love to hear, definitely."