A SPORTS coach has fought his way back to health – after receiving lifesaving stem cells from a stranger.
Tom Scott, from Stockbridge, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2010 while he was in Vietnam working as a sports coach.
Tom returned to Edinburgh and after two years of unsuccessful treatments, was told that he would need a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.
Due to Tom’s mixed race background, it meant that finding a perfect match would be more difficult. However, on Christmas Eve 2012, Tom was told that blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan had found him a match in America.
The 33-year-old said: “Knowing that my chances of finding a suitable donor were lower because of my ethnic background was worrying, but to be honest I always thought they’d find someone. Now, I’m passionate about getting more people from different ethnic backgrounds to join the register. It felt amazing to know that there was someone thousands of miles away who was willing to help me.”
Now Tom, who lives with partner Stef, will compete for the first time in Anthony Nolan’s team at the British Transplant Games in North Lanarkshire.
The annual event, this year being held from Thursday, July 27, allows people who have received a lifesaving organ or stem cell transplants take part in a series of Olympic-style events.
After his life-changing diagnosis, Tom focussed on fitness as a means of recovery and took part in British Military Fitness and completed a Spartan Race. He then turned his sights on the Transplant Games.
He said: “I almost did the British Transplant Games last year, but this year saw it was in North Lanarkshire and knew I had to go for it.”
Tom is taking part in the 1500m and 5k events at this year’s Games, and he’s aiming for a medal in each.
He said: “Am I in it to win? Absolutely. 100 per cent. A million per cent. In a selfish way, I’m really desperate to win and I’ll be disappointed if I’m not at least on the podium.
“The people who know me well, my friends and family, know that I’m the sort of person who loves to win.”
He added: “It’s special for me to be part of Team Anthony Nolan because without Anthony Nolan and a 97kg man somewhere in the States... well, it might be a totally different story.”
Chiara DeBiase, assistant director of patient services at Anthony Nolan, said: “The Games are a testament to the incredible spirit and determination of people who have gone through such a difficult and complicated recovery. This event demonstrates that many stem cell transplant recipients like Tom can go on to live rich, healthy and fulfilling lives. Last year, Team Anthony Nolan did fantastically – bringing home our best ever medal haul – and we can’t wait for another brilliant year.”