Nurse at Queen Elizabeth Hospital donates stem cells

Nurse at Queen Elizabeth Hospital donates stem cells

A nurse at Queen Elizabeth Hospital has donated “lifesaving” stem cells to a cancer patient, and is now encouraging others to do the same.

Stacey Ratcliff, Roald Dahl Paediatric Epilepsy Clinical Nurse Specialist, has told her story of a stem cell donation during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

The nurse spent 15 years on the British Bone Marrow Registry before she was contacted at the end of 2019.

“As a nurse I am all too aware of how vital blood and organ donations are,” Stacey said.

“I have administered many blood products to patients, and previously worked on a Paediatric Transplant Unit for many years.

“I have witnessed first-hand the life changing and lifesaving impact which happens when one person decides to donate a part of themselves.”

Stacey was told she was a potential match for a patient currently undergoing chemotherapy, and despite the Covid-19 pandemic the procedure went ahead.

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She said: “Making a donation was anxiety provoking, for me and the team supporting me, as this was unknown territory. Covid-19 had brought about much uncertainty, and continues to be a challenge for all working in healthcare.”

The nurse was given a medical examination to ensure, Stacey said she was called in four days before the procedure and given a medication called GCSF to increase my production and mobilisation of stem cells.

Then she was to undergo the procedure to transfer the stem cells called apheresis.

“The apheresis procedure to separate and collect the stem cells from my circulating blood took four hours.

“My target was to produce four million stem cells and 300ml of plasma for the patient.

“Luckily I had been particularly sensitive to the GCSF and produced over 10 million stem cells and easily donated the 300ml of plasma.

“This was fantastic news as the team then informed me that they would be able to create two possible transplants from my donation for the patient.

“One would be administered and the second would be frozen in case they needed a stem cell transplant in the future.”

Whilst the procedure was going on, the patient was undergoing a chemotherapy regime to prepare their body, which would happen within 72 hours of it leaving Stacey’s body.

Speaking afterwards, Stacey said: “”The whole process has been incredible. I feel honoured and incredibly proud to have been able to donate stem cells to give someone the possibility of another chance at life.

“As a nurse I am all too aware of how vital blood and organ donations are.

“The Bone Marrow Registry team were fantastic and really looked after me in such a challenging time.

“The Apheresis Unit at the London Clinic was exceptional, giving me great care for the procedure.

Stacey said she hopes others will follow her in donating blood and stem cells.

“I trust that my stem cells arrived safely and hope that the transplant successfully treats the patient.

“By sharing my story I hope colleagues will be encouraged to donate blood, sign up to the British Bone Marrow Registry, share your wishes regarding organ donation.”

Also in high demand right now is plasma from patients who have recovered from Covid-19.

Donated plasma can be transfused to patients being treated with coronavirus, with the antibodies present supporting the patient’s immune response and helping them recover.

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