Former Miss Edinburgh Fiona Dickie calls for more stem cell donors

Former Miss Edinburgh Fiona Dickie is encouraging more people to join the stem cell register after making a donation to help a man with blood cancer in Sheffield.
Former Miss Edinburgh Fiona Dickie is encouraging more people to join the stem cell register after making a donation to help a man with blood cancer in Sheffield.
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A former Miss Edinburgh is calling for people to join the stem cell register after her donation potentially helped save the life of a man with blood cancer.

Fiona Dickie joined the Anthony Nolan stem cell register two years ago after hearing the tragic story of how six-year-old Sunderland boy Bradley Lowery passed away before a donor could be found.

England football manager Gareth Southgate with Bradley Lowery. Picture: PA

England football manager Gareth Southgate with Bradley Lowery. Picture: PA

The 31-year-old recently received a phone call after a match was established with a man with blood cancer in Yorkshire. Fiona, who won the Capital’s beauty pageant in 2010, said: “I read about Bradley and when I researched donating stem cells I knew I had to register.

“Everyone knows someone who has cancer and I just wanted to be able to make a difference to someone’s life. There is a 27 per cent chance of you matching with someone during your life at the moment so I was shocked to be matched so soon.”

Following a health check, Fiona was visited by a nurse on four consecutive days at her home to administer protein injections to make the donation a simpler process.

She then travelled down to Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital where she was hooked up to a dialysis machine for five hours to complete the donation process.

Fiona, who lives in Tranent, was told by doctors that her donation was particularly precious due to the fact they were unable to find a male match for the patient in the UK.

Men produce more stem cells than women and are six times more likely to donate, but make up just 15 per cent of the Anthony Nolan register.

Fiona said: “Usually the turnaround is six to eight weeks but I was actually brought in after just three weeks because I believe the man was in a difficult stage.

“It is incredible that I was this man’s only match and my donation could help save his life. I got quite emotional at the hospital because this man is someone’s son, father or husband.”

The Asahi account manager will receive an update on the man’s progress in six months’ time and Fiona may be able to meet her match after a two-year confidentiality period.

More than 2,000 people in the UK are in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant every year. Having been through the process, Fiona now hopes to encourage others to sign up to the register either through Anthony Nolan or DKMS in order to help save lives.

“I believe everyone should be on the stem cell register,” said Fiona.

“Just two per cent of the UK’s population are on the stem cell register. Imagine if more people were on that register meaning those patients are able to spend more precious time with their families.

“It takes two minutes to sign up and then do the swab. Some will wait years and others will never get the call, but then you are in a position where you have the potential to save somebody’s life.”

kieran.murray@jpimedia.co.uk