A hand­shake and a hug for stem cell hero David

Argyllshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Colin Cameron edi­tor@ar­gyll­shiread­ver­tiser.co.uk

A dad from Devon trav­elled to Argyll last week for his first meet­ing with the man who saved his life.

Brett Grist from Teign­mouth was di­ag­nosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in May 2014 and, af­ter re­laps­ing fol­low­ing three cy­cles of chemo­ther­apy, he was told a stem cell trans­plant would be his best chance of sur­vival.

That anony­mous stem cell do­na­tion came from Lochgilp­head man David MacInnes.

David joined the An­thony Nolan stem cell regis­ter in his teens af­ter a friend lost his cousin to leukaemia.

He ex­plained: ‘There’s a big fol­low­ing for An­thony Nolan in our area be­cause a few years ago the cousin of one of my best friends, a young woman called Johanna, needed a trans­plant. She died be­cause there was no match, but I signed up be­cause of her.’

Brett re­ceived his trans­plant in Oc­to­ber 2015 and, af­ter a long re­cov­ery, is now healthy and well. The iden­tity of re­cip­i­ent and donor must be kept con­fi­den­tial for two years, to pro­tect them both, but the pair ex­changed cards, giv­ing Brett and David the chance to learn a bit about each other.

Then, on Sun­day June 3, the long-awaited meet­ing took place in Camp­bel­town.

Brett con­tin­ued: ‘I had but­ter­flies be­fore we met.

‘I was a lit­tle bit lost for words but I gave David a hug and shook hands and said thank you.

‘We had a lovely evening to­gether with our fam­i­lies and the kids played to­gether, which was great.

‘Without David, my kids would have grown up without a fa­ther.

‘The first cou­ple of min­utes were a lit­tle bit over­whelm­ing be­cause there was so much an­tic­i­pa­tion,’ said David.

‘Our kids got along re­ally well and I see us be­com­ing friends rather than any­one feel­ing like they owe us some­thing,’ he con­tin­ued.

David now works for the Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice (SFRS) and is in­volved in its part­ner­ship with An­thony Nolan, which has now re­cruited more than 10,000 po­ten­tial donors.

Amy Bartlett, re­gional de­vel­op­ment man­ager for Scot­land said: ‘The SFRS and An­thony Nolan part­ner­ship has al­ready re­sulted in 28 peo­ple do­nat­ing stem cells but Brett and David are the first pair who have been able to meet, so it’s an ex­cit­ing mo­ment.

‘I would en­cour­age any­one who is aged 16-30 and in good health to con­sider join­ing the regis­ter and visit an­tho­nynolan.org/join. Join­ing the regis­ter is sim­ple and it could save the life of some­one like Brett.’

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