Openreach’s Simon Jones is encouraging others to follow in his footsteps after he started 2017 with an appointment that could save someone’s life.
The 26-year-old from Leicester works as a planner for Openreach, BT’s local network business, and joined the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register when he was 18.
Eight years later he got the call to say he was a perfect match – and the last chance – for a very sick patient.
He travelled to University College Hospital in London at the end of January where he donated one and a half litres of bone marrow in a one-hour operation. A courier was waiting to transport his bone marrow to the patient – who could be anywhere in the world.
Just a week later, he’s back working and feeling “absolutely fine”. Within four weeks, his body will replace the bone marrow he’s donated.
Most bone marrow donations are similar to giving blood. But Simon’s extraction needed to come from his hip.
“The operation scares some people – I understand that,” says Simon. “But waking up after a short operation and experiencing a few days of pain and tiredness for hopefully saving a life…that’s the most amazing feeling.”
The Anthony Nolan charity covered all costs, and Openreach supported Simon throughout.
Simon remains the patient’s donor for two years in case they need further top-ups. He may never find out who they are, or if it was a success. But, he says: “I’d do it all again tomorrow.”
He even took part in “dry January” and donated the money he raised to the charity’s fund.
Inspired by Simon, several friends have signed up to the register. “It’s simple to sign-up if you’re aged 16-30,” says Simon. “If there is anyone out there who’s thinking about getting involved then I’d really urge them to do so.”
Once on the register, there’s a one in 790 chance of getting the call to donate. “You don’t completely forget about it once you’ve registered. But because it’s so rare to be a match, you never think you’ll get the call,” he says.
Ann O’Leary, head of register development at Anthony Nolan, said: “Simon has done an amazing thing by donating his bone marrow and giving a patient with blood cancer or a blood disorder a second chance at life.
"Every day, three people have a potentially life-saving bone marrow or stem cell transplant with the help of a selfless donor. We need more people aged 16-30, particularly young men and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to join the Anthony Nolan register and give more people the chance of finding the best match.”
To find out more about the Anthony Nolan charity, please go to their website.