Shane Dawe was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in November 2018 and is encouraging people to put their name on the Australian Donor Registry this World Marrow Donor Day, Saturday September 21.
Shane Dawe was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in November 2018 and is encouraging people to put their name on the Australian Donor Registry this World Marrow Donor Day, Saturday September 21.

Swab a cheek, save a life

SHANE Dawe never expected to get the news he did on November 16: he had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

“I went to the hospital because I had a sinus infection,” Mr Dawe said.

“They did a CT scan and a blood test and it came back fine. They sent us home.”

Mr Dawe said he had just returned home and sat down when the phone rang and the doctors requested he immediately come back to the hospital.

“They took us to a private room and they told me, ‘you have leukaemia’,” Mr Dawe said.

“I was gutted, I was confused.”

After going into remission following his second round of chemotherapy, Mr Dawe said doctors told him his chances of staying in remission would increase from 10 per cent to about 65 per cent with a bone marrow transplant.

Mr Dawe said his rare tissue type didn’t match with anyone on the world donor registry.

The closest match was his older sister, who was a half-match.

“(My sister) has increased my percentage rate of living from 10 per cent to 75 per cent now,” Mr Dawe said.

Yesterday was World Marrow Donor Day and Mr Dawe wanted others to know how important it is to register through the Australian Donor Registry to become a stem cell or bone marrow donor.

“You may give someone the chance that they won’t get anywhere else,” Mr Dawe said.

Currently the Australian Donor Registry is unable to meet the needs of Australian patients requiring a stem cell transplant as less than five per cent of registered Australian donors are considered ideal.

This means most Australian patients requiring a transplant need to look overseas to receive vital treatment.

Mr Dawe said by registering you were not locked in to being a donor if called upon.

“You sit there and think, ‘if only people would do it, maybe I’d have a chance’,” Mr Dawe said.

“It may not just be in Australia that you’re helping someone.”

Australian Donor Registry CEO Lisa Smith said it was especially males aged 18-30, from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds, who were being urged to come forward.

“While we welcome all new donors, the reality is younger male donors result in better outcomes for patients and increase their chances of finding the best possible match,” Ms Smith said.

“Young men make particularly important donors as they often weigh more and therefore literally have more to give.”

Register at lf.strengthtogive.org.au and a swab kit will be sent to you.

One returned you will be placed on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry.