100 prospective stem cell donors.
From the start, this was a #TimPageFitForLife life-saving project objective. We made solid progress in March, with 62 people registering as potential donors with DKMS UK via sign-up sessions, first, at the BT Belfast BFSEC Social Committee Bake Sale and, then second, at Victoria parkrun.
Donor registration sessions take some organisation and, although our intention was to arrange sessions at several other parkrun venues, a combination of injury, busy-ness and venue logistics meant we arrived in August still below that target at 62 people signed up.
Sometimes, I take a £10 web-flyer fare on the Enterprise train down to Dublin as a reflective away-day and, so it was, sitting on the Dun Laoghaire pier in the sun it hit me like a brick
“Organise a Donor Drive for the whole of BT Riverside Tower, all 12 floors”
Apparently, for every 20 people signed up, it is likely that, over the next 10 years, someone will be able to have a potentially life-saving transplant. Ruth and I were hopeful we could sign up another 38 people to reach our target of 100, bringing hope to some people who would one day find themselves in medical dire straits.
Patrick Ryan of DKMS UK was again helpful and sent a full set of supplies for our third Donor Drive – posters, flyer leaflets, registration sheets and the essential cheek swab kits used to take tissue samples for tissue matching in the lab.
We set a date for Tue 13-Sep, booked the Customer Events area for the day and emailed everyone in Riverside Tower details of the event a few days in advance.
First step was to recruit 12 volunteers – BT people and also Patricia McAuley & Page McLaughlin.
Volunteers receive half an hour’s training to become familiar with the registration process. The day before the Drive, Ruth helped with the training, during which we took the opportunity to sign up several people for real to illustrate the process.
D-Day arrived. We were well prepared, good-to-go, but had no idea of the level of interest or number of sign-ups we might achieve.
When the registration process completes, people’s details go on a database and they receive a DKMS stem cell donor card. Pauline Clark, who dropped by as we were starting, could proudly show her card from a previous Donor Drive.
As ‘Front-of-House’ guy, I manned an Info Desk in Riverside Tower Reception, explaining what we were doing and inviting people to find out more.
We ran from 10.00 – 15.00. At times, our waiting area was needed when all of our eight sign-up stations were in use.
We had a steady stream of people registering through the day – completing the paperwork…
… and then doing the cheek swabs.
When 3pm arrived, we had well-exceeded the 38 registration required to get to 100.
We were delighted that 135 people signed up on the day, many of whom were in the middle of busy work days, and took time out of their break to understand the process and sign up.
Ruth and I would like to thank the Donor Drive volunteers, everyone who took time to find out more, everyone who signed up, the BT Riverside Reception & Security teams that helped with logistics and, especially, the DKMS UK team for their life-saving work.
Information on DKMS UK is here.
If you would like to donate to DKMS, their MyDonate site is here. Each registration costs £40 – good value for money.