It only takes a minute to be a lifesaver - Biggleswade woman’s plea for blood stem cell donors

A Biggleswade woman who suffered a double tragedy after her husband and stepson died from blood cancer, is campaigning to encourage more people to sign up as blood stem cell donors.

Jacqui Thompson, a dedicated runner and member of the DKMS Bedfordshire Volunteer Hub, knows the devastating effect that blood cancer can have.

She is passionate about raising awareness and encouraging more people to support the fight against the disease after losing both her husband and stepson to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Her husband, David, discovered he had the condition soon after their daughter’s first birthday in 1995. He lived with the condition for a number of years but lost his fight for life in February 2002 on his 51st birthday, as a matching blood stem cell donor could not be found in time. Her stepson, Jimmy, was just 16 years old when he died.

Jacqui said: “I want to help raise awareness of this wonderful organisation, whose aim is raise awareness and increase the number of potential blood stem cell donors, so a match can be found for everyone in need. I have seen first hand how blood cancer affects families; it’s a horrible condition. We need more people to come forward and become blood stem cell donors, so I would urge people to come down and spare a moment to swab.”

On 20 April the team will host a public registration event at the Bedford Park Run, at the Pavillion, from 8.30-11.30am. They will be encouraging people aged between 17-55 to swab their cheeks to become a potential lifesaver with blood cancer charity DKMS. They will then go on standby to help give someone with blood cancer or disorder a second chance at life.

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Many people never find the lifesaving blood stem cell donor match they need. This isn’t because a match doesn’t exist, it’s simply because there aren’t enough people registered as donors.

The DKMS Bedfordshire Volunteer Hub, was initially set up by Bedford resident, Poonam Chand, in May 2018, in response to five-year-old Kaiya Patel’s search for her potential blood stem cell donor.

Shafia Begam, Senior Volunteer Manager at DKMS said: “We couldn’t do the work we do without volunteers like Jacqui and Poonam. Their commitment to helping us register more potential blood stem cell donors is inspiring. Please spare the time to register at this brilliant event and help someone in need of a blood stem cell transplant. If you can’t make the donor drive, you can register online for a home swab kit at dkms.org.uk .”

To register one potential blood stem cell donor it costs £40. DKMS relies on monetary donations to help cover this cost. Whilst the NHS is very supportive, it falls to charities like us to reach out to those lifesavers - please support us in registering more potential lifesavers and donate online .