25 years after bone marrow transplant

PUBLISHED: 10:31 30 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:17 06 May 2010

Bone marrow donor Helen Williams

Bone marrow donor Helen Williams

BONE marrow donor Helen Williams and her brother Paul Rosen provide hope for many as they celebrate the 25th anniversary of the transplant. The operation, at Hammersmith Hospital, was in its pioneering stages when Paul, suffering from leukaemia, asked Hel

BONE marrow donor Helen Williams and her brother Paul Rosen provide hope for many as they celebrate the 25th anniversary of the transplant.

The operation, at Hammersmith Hospital, was in its pioneering stages when Paul, suffering from leukaemia, asked Helen to donate.

The transplant changed his life and he still speaks to the consultant who performed it after all these years. Paul, 51, also now has two grown up children and a successful career as an accountant.

The brother and sister have become closer since the transplant and Helen, 57, from Hitchin, wanted to tell their success story to encourage others as she believes that asking her to do it was probably the hardest thing he has ever done.

She said: "He had a friend in hospital at the same time, with the same problem, who wouldn't ask his own sister to donate. However, two years later he decided to have the transplant as he saw how it had helped my brother. Unfortunately he had left it too late and he died a while after."

Although Paul still needs yearly checkups he has only had non-serious indirect problems since.

They were inspired by the Anthony Nolan Trust, which provides donors for patients in need of bone marrow transplants, as it had started increasing awareness at the time.

However, Helen believes that today's operation would probably involve even less hassle and risk due to new developments.

Alex Frazier of the Anthony Nolan organisation, said: "We urgently need more people like Helen to join the bone marrow register. Unlike Paul Rosen, 70 per cent of patients are unable to find a suitable donor within their family and are reliant on Anthony Nolan to find them a suitable life saving donor."

Between 40 and 70 per cent of people normally survive five years after their transplant. However the survival rate is improving due to better donor matches and transplant practice.

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