A senior north firefighter has spoken of the shock of discovering he was a match for a potentially lifesaving stem cell transplant – after nearly 20 years on the register.
Fraser Nixon, group commander of the Highland West area, was a match for a blood cancer victim requiring a stem cell donation last year.
Now, 15 months on, he has spoken of his experience as the 10th anniversary of a collaboration between the fire service and Anthony Nolan approaches.
He said he was “excited” adding that he had almost forgotten he was on the register.
He said: “It’s really ironic and coincidental that I had actually got involved with doing school presentations about 18 months beforehand.
“When we do the presentations we talk about getting people as young and as fit and healthy as we can.
“So for me, it was just really shocking and exciting at the same time, and completely took me by surprise as I was 48 years of age.”
The partnership was born in 2009 after the former Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service’s area commander, Ally Boyle, was diagnosed with a blood disorder and was told his best chance of survival was a stem cell transplant.
After identifying the synergy between the fire service and Anthony Nolan – with their shared aims of saving lives – he contacted the charity and the partnership was formed.
Now, working side by side, the recruitment drive of potential stem cell donors has resulted in 14,000 additions to the register over the past decade, with 53 matching those requiring a transplant.
Mr Nixon continues to encourage others to join the register by leading a team of dedicated volunteers who host recruitment events in schools across the north.
The crowning moment of the drive was when former Culloden Academy pupil Kai Stewart, who championed his school’s event, was selected as a match after just six months.
Mr Nixon said: “When you see from Anthony Nolan’s perspective how important it is for the patient, you realise how rewarding and humbling an experience it is.
“It’s a really simple process and I can’t emphasise enough how much of a positive thing it is.
“You could be giving somebody a second chance at life, or if not just giving their friends and family some hope for the future.”
Amy Barrett of Anthony Nolan said Mr Nixon’s personal tale is “a valuable way of breaking down myths around the process”.
To sign up to the register, donors simply have to provide a DNA sample in the form of a saliva swab, which can be completed in just 30 seconds and posted to Anthony Nolan.