Hello, I’m Stephanie and at age 17, I was a stem cell donor for my brother James.  

His diagnosis with Very Severe Aplastic Anaemia was all a bit of a shock and to add to the shock, I was being tested to see if I could help him!

Me becoming a donor

Once we realised I was a match, I remember being spoken to by the transplant coordinator on my own, they had to know I was willing to proceed and be a donor by my own free will, which all felt a bit important and a little overwhelming in some ways, but I was not going to say no.  The timing could have been better though, right in the middle of my AS Levels.  

I had to have a nurse come to my school every day to give me G-CSF injections to make me grow more stem cells. My joints ached a little and the injections stung a bit, but I knew the importance and it had to be done. 

My sister had time off school so that she could keep me company on the day of the stem cell harvest, she fed me grapes and chocolate and we watched movies on my laptop for five hours.  I was glad when it finished, but then the nurses broke the news that I hadn’t donated enough and I would need to have another G-CSF injection and do the same the next day.  Mum bought us a McDonald's to cheer me up.  

Once I’d produced enough cells, we both ran up to James’s hospital room to watch my cells being dripped into him, they were orangey-red, such an experience.  He was seriously unwell at the time and couldn’t really open his eyes or talk to us.  Nothing happened for three weeks, I worried it hadn’t worked, then like a miracle he started to produce neutrophils, what a relief, I felt very proud.

The whole exposure to the medical world sparked my interest so much that I decided I wanted to become a doctor and now 12 years on, I have been practising medicine for 5 years. 

A difficult time has changed both of our lives, but we fought our way through and with great luck and determination we are both now making our way in the world. 

Blog by Stephanie Vincent