Campaign for local rower aims to increase number of bone marrow donors

Paul Giblin and his wife Cate.

Paul Giblin and his wife Cate.

Friends of a local rowing champion who is awaiting a bone marrow transplant are spearheading a campaign to heighten awareness about the importance of becoming donors.

Paul Giblin (30 ) who is one of Ireland’s most decorated rowers (17 times an Irish senior champion, double winner at Henley Royal Regatta, medallist at the World Under-23 Rowing Championships and World Student Games ) - was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in April 2012.

A former civil engineer from Tirellan Heights he is now an army officer stationed at Dún Uí Mhaolaíosa Barracks in Renmore.

Just married, Paul is currently undergoing his fourth regime of chemotherapy having also had a stem cell (transferred from his own body ) transplant and radiotherapy.

An impressive sporting all rounder he spent a couple of seasons on the cycling circuit. He rode the 2010 Rás and also competed at the World Para Cycling Championships as the sighted pilot in the tandem event.

His friends say his only chance of being cured is if a suitable bone marrow/stem cell donor can be found.

“This is not an easy task and his medical team is hoping to find a match on the global registry, the pool from which all donations are drawn,”explains a spokesperson for his friends, Ruadhán Cooke. “He will not be well until he has the bone marrow transplant and this is the only means of making him well. Things are very serious as the chemotherapy treatment he is currently receiving will not cure him, it will just buy him time.”

 Paul was diagnosed after he noted lumps on his neck. He is hoping a suitable bone marrow match will be found for him. “He was told that of all the cancers to get Hodgkin’s lymphoma was the most amenable to treatment. He’s been terribly unlucky as he has not been cured by the established treatment.”

His friends have joined forces to create awareness about the importance of bone marrow donation with a view to increasing the number of potential donors on the global registry.

“We are reaching out to family, friends and friends of friends. We are hoping to significantly increase the numbers signing up to become bone marrow donors, to give people in Paul’s situation a fighting chance. However, this is a gift that will keep on giving and which some day you or a loved one may need and benefit from.”

Ruadhán Cooke says he has a very positive outlook, is working and is hoping that a suitable donor can be found. “Paul is on his fourth regime of chemotherapy with a view to halting the illness until he can have a transplant. An ideal match for a bone marrow transplant is a sibling but neither of Paul’s sisters had the right match.”

His only chance of being cured is if a suitable bone marrow/stem cell donor can be found, says his friend.

“This is not an easy task and his medical team is hoping to find a match on the global registry, the pool from which all donations are drawn.”

People are being urged to consider becoming donors and to spread the word in their homes, workplaces and communities.

“Every name on the register could potentially help somebody who needs that most special of all gifts, life.”

Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue found in the body’s hollow bones, such as legs, arms and hips. It produces platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells, the primary agents of the body’s immune system. Bone marrow is rich in stem cells from which all these blood cells originate.

Healthy people have a reserve of bone marrow which is constantly being renewed but patients with some blood disorders do not have these reserves. Sometimes the only treatment is a transplant of healthy bone marrow or stem cells from a well matched donor.

A bone marrow transplant involves replacing diseased or damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells. The original bone marrow is eradicated using high dose chemotherapy or radiation. If the transplant is successful the transplanted stem cells start to produce new, healthy blood cells.

People interested in finding out more about the Irish Bone Marrow Registry should contact the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

— See Page 38 to see story on college support for Paul Giblin.



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