The Importance of Donating Bone Marrow


Gemma & Allan McPike with their daughter
Gemma & Allan McPike with their daughter

A couple from Baillieston are reaching out to Hoolit’s readers to raise awareness on the great need for more people to register to donate bone marrow. Since Covid-19, the number of people registering to donate bone marrow has dropped. The chances of finding a match are one in 100,000 which makes Gemma and Allan McPike’s story even more inspiring.


The couple are on the Anthony Nolan register to donate bone marrow and three years ago, Allan was found to be a match. Allan said “When you register to donate bone marrow you just take a simple swab of your mouth. If a match is found then you are given the patient’s weight and gender.” Through this, Allan McPike conduced that his bone marrow match was a child. “The process of donating bone marrow only takes about an hour - it’s a little pain for a lot of gain.”


Both the McPikes and the family who Allan’s donation helped expressed an interest in learning more about each other and have since built a friendship over video calls. According to the DKMS register, 70% of patients need to find a match outside their family and the McPikes soon learned that their patient match was from Wales.

Sam Brand’s son, Ryan Brand, was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder when he was an infant. Diamond-Blackfan anaemia is a condition where the bone marrow fails to make enough red blood cells. Ryan was five when Allan was found to be a match and a transplant followed soon after. Since then, the two families speak via video call once a month and plan to meet once it’s safe due to Covid-19. “We didn’t know if the procedure would work”, recalled Sam, “Allan saved my boy’s life.” Ryan is now a happy little boy who attends school regularly with a better quality of life after the procedure.


Ryan at the end of his treatment
Ryan at the end of his treatment

The McPike and Brand’s story has since made the Welsh news which is why the McPike’s contacted The Hoolit Directory. “I’m super proud of Allan”, remarked Gemma, “successful outcomes should be shouted about - especially when they involve someone from your local area such as Baillieston.” The couple hopes that their story inspires others to register to donate bone marrow, especially in a time of a national pandemic when registers have seen a decline in numbers. “It only takes five minutes to register online“, added Allan “my part was the easy part. Any help I’ve given Ryan is worth it and I’d do it all over again.”


If you are aged 16-30, you can register to donate bone marrow by contacting Anthony Nolan on 0303 303 0303 or online at anthonynolan.org or DKMS at dkms.org.uk/en/register-now.

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