Scots dad meets with bone marrow recipient

Lisa Whaymand, with her donor, Scots dad-of-three Neil Munro. Picture: BBC

Lisa Whaymand, with her donor, Scots dad-of-three Neil Munro. Picture: BBC

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A SCOTTISH father of three was reduced to tears as he met a woman whose life he saved with a bone marrow donation.

Donors and recipients of bone marrow are usually not told one another’s names, but Lisa Whaymand was desperate to meet the person who saved her from cancer and allowed her to continue looking after her own three children.

Her emotional meeting with Neil Munro, 46, is to feature in a new series called The Gift, to be screened on BBC One next month. In one scene, Ms Whaymand’s teenage son Jack thanked her donor for “saving my mum”.

Mr Munro, an oil industry engineer from Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, said he was “delighted” to learn the recipient of his donation had survived her ordeal.

He told The Scotsman: “I could have asked in the first two years after the donation how the person was doing, but I thought it was better not to know. I didn’t want to learn that it possibly hadn’t worked, so continued to believe it went well.

“When she decided to get in touch, I was delighted.”

The first contact was a Christmas card. Although anonymous, it was “signed” with a smiley face. It read: “I am now home and on the long road to recovery with my young family and loved ones.

“At one point this year, I didn’t think I would make Christmas. With your donation, I hope and will fight to be around for many more Christmases!!’’

Four years later, the two families are close friends.

Mr Munro, who lives with his wife Louise, 46, and their three children, Tara, 14, Connor, 13, and 11-year-old Kirsten, joined the bone marrow register in 2000, encouraged to do so by a work colleague who was fundraising for the Anthony Nolan Trust.

He said: “I had given blood for years and always carried a donor card, so I thought this was just a natural onward step.

“Over the years, I was asked to give further blood samples in case there was a possibility of a match, but nothing came of it.”

In 2010, it was confirmed he was a good fit for someone.

He said: “The procedure in my case was not the traditional method of a needle in the spine, but by a process called peripheral blood stem cell collection, or PBSCC, a kind of blood transfusion which encourages stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood stream.

“To prepare my body, a nurse visited me four days in a row to administer four injections each day in my stomach, just before I travelled down to London.”

On the day, he lay for about six hours on a hospital bed, watching as the machine he was attached to took the blood out of one arm, extracted what it needed, and then pumped it back in.

Ms Whaymand, from Reading in Berkshire, received the donation the same day.

In 2013, Mr Munro got a call from the Anthony Nolan Trust asking if he would be interested in meeting his recipient. He later discovered Ms Whaymand had three children, like himself. Last January, a meeting was set up, and Mr Munro and Ms Whaymand were filmed at his home by a documentary crew.

“I don’t normally show my emotions, but I was really choked,” Mr Munro said.

Ms Whaymand said she was determined to meet her donor and thank him face to face for allowing her to continue being a mother to her children.

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