IT is three months until Christmas but Barry Wood has just given someone the greatest present ever – the gift of life.
The 39-year-old Teri was in London last week where he donated bone marrow through the Anthony Nolan charity.
For many people suffering from a blood cancer, such as leukaemia, a blood stem cell transplant may be their last chance of life.
And it is hoped Barry’s donation will be the lifesaving transplant that is so desperately needed.
He said: “We all have it in us to be able to help someone. The pain I have had to go through is nothing in relation to the pain a sufferer has or their family and friends.
“Even if we can only give them that little bit longer to live in this beautiful world that we have and make memories that will live with them or their loved ones for the rest of their lives.”
It was around six years ago that Barry joined Teries at an event in Drumlanrig Primary School where he was placed on the donor register.
Over the years he didn’t hear anything from the charity, until just recently when he received a letter informing him that he could be a possible match and asking if he would be willing to take the next steps in the process.
“I agreed as that is why I went on the list in the first place – to help someone worse off than myself,” said Barry.
Blood samples were taken at the doctors and sent off to Anthony Nolan and when the match was confirmed Barry, a finance support worker with Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA), was asked if he would prefer to donate by blood or bone marrow.
He explained: “I said that I went onto the register to help and would do whatever they needed done. They were glad that I said that as they needed bone marrow for this particular sufferer which was, I think, their best chance.”
After a family holiday, Barry attended their London clinic for a day to undertake a medical. And that was when the enormity of the situation, from a personal point of view, began to really hit home.
He said: “Before I got the go ahead I was quite calm but now that they had confirmed dates etc it was all beginning to get a wee bit scary as I break out in a cold sweat if anyone comes close to me with a needle, never mind going through an operation like that.
“But the fact that I could be saving someone’s life was the driving force to keep me focussed on the end result.”
The charity took care of everything, including travel, accommodation and the necessary time off work.
“When travelling down I was getting more and more nervous – I’m fine with blood and guts and could be a surgeon but when it is happening to me and I am not in control, then I am a big softie,” said Barry, who was joined on the journey south by his wife Mandy.
The operation itself involved a surgeon inserting two needles into the hip bone from the back and taking out the bone marrow in a procedure that lasts from about half-an-hour to an hour depending on how much they need to take for the recipient
Barry, a former president of the Mosstroopers Club, said: “Waking up in the recovery room was a bit unusual – the feeling is like being out on the tiles on a good Saturday night!
“I was told that I may feel a lot of discomfort in my lower back and that I would have bruising and bleeding where they inserted the needles but to be honest I felt a lot better that I thought I would. I was up and walking about within an hour of coming round from the anaesthetic.”
Barry isn’t allowed to find out the identity of the recipient, although he will be given an update on their condition in six months time.
He said: “Even though the results of the procedure are unknown, I have still tried to help someone who is not as lucky as to have their health.”