A former soldier from Dundee who was diagnosed with leukaemia and did not expect to watch his daughters grow up has urged people to register as blood donors after numbers plummeted in lockdown.
Jamie Buchanan, 43, found out he had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in the summer of 2016 when his wife, Kathryn, was six months pregnant.
Had it not been for a matching blood donor, he might not have been able to watch his identical twin daughters grow up.
He has joined firces with the charity DKMS to urge people in Tayside and Fife to register as blood stem cell donors as part of Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
There has been a 19% decrease in registrations, and the charity says there is an urgent need to reverse the decline in potential donors.
Jamie was receiving treatment when his wife was giving birth to twin daughters Erin and Eva, but was blown away by hospital staff who made sure he could be there.
He said: “My second round of chemotherapy in the early autumn of 2016 coincided with my wife being rushed into hospital after abnormal test results.
“Despite my immune system beginning to fail because of the treatment, the hospital staff managed to get me to the delivery and I was there for the births of my baby girls.
“By this stage we had put out the search on the stem cell registry to try and find a matching donor for me. We knew this was my only hope of survival.
“If I didn’t have a blood stem cell transplant, the leukaemia would just continue coming back and every time it came back it would be harder to treat, meaning eventually it would kill me.”
He urged people to consider giving other patients like him the gift of life.
“I’m very, very lucky to have found my matching donor,” he said.
“I received my donation a few months after my girls were born and I am so grateful to be here to see them grow everyday.”
Someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer every 20 minutes. It is the third most common cause of cancer death in the country and a stem cell transplant can be the last hope of survival for patients.
Fewer than 1% of people in Scotland have registered to become a donor, and the figure has fallen further during the coronavirus pandemic.
Only a third of people with blood cancer or blood disease will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family.
Jonathan Pearce, chief executive of DKMS UK, said: “We are dedicated to the fight against blood cancer. In the UK we are proud to have registered over 650,000 blood stem cell donors and helped to give over 1,000 people a second chance at life.
“Yet, the number of donors sadly comes nowhere near to meeting the demand from people desperately seeking a vital donation from a complete stranger. The potential imminent spike in blood cancer diagnoses will mean even more will need to rely on the kindness of a stranger to give them extra time with their loved ones.”
To register as a potential donor, visit dkms.org.uk/bcam2020.