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Alana James (Executive Director, South Africa): A journey with my little box of hope

In December 2020, I had the opportunity to personally courier stem cells from Cape Town to a patient in Johannesburg.

Last updated: 24/11/2021

In December 2020, I had the opportunity to personally courier stem cells from Cape Town to a patient in Johannesburg.

Collecting the stem cells was a stressful process due to the pressure of only having one shot to deliver them successfully. Before departing, I had the opportunity to meet the donor donating her stem cells, which was pretty cool yet emotional. Walking into the room I was pleased to find the donor perfectly fine after undergoing the stem cell extraction, I fought back the tears knowing that she entrusted me to deliver her stem cells to a patient in need of a second chance at life.

After leaving the hospital, there were nerves and stress regarding the flight, temperature of the stem cell box and paper work. Although there was 72 hour window, the goal is to always get it to the patient sooner rather than later. It was a constant worry having the stem cells with you as there are a number of factors to consider such as airport customs, space and temperature changes.

The word I’d use to describe this experience is “dutiful” as this was a job that needed to be done. Being the one chosen to transport the stem cells awoken a sense of pride as I embarked on performing such a meaningful task.

I finally arrived at the hospital and handed over the stem cells. Carrying the box at that moment connected me to what we do and the commitment our donors make to the patients – saving the lives of others.

On my way to deliver the stem cells, I made a little video for staff to update and celebrate our first transplant as DKMS.

Without the efforts of everyone, we would not have been able to reach this accomplishment. Years and years of hard work and determination has finally paid off.

By signing off the final paperwork, the excitement of what we had just achieved overweighed the stress of the day.

Sitting at the same table as doctors and physicians that very evening, made me realise that the work we do plays its part in saving the lives of many patients.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for the incredible work you every day, to me you are all heroes.







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