David Hanna has made a life-saving bone marrow donation and says he would be willing to do it again to save another life.
David Hanna has made a life-saving bone marrow donation and says he would be willing to do it again to save another life. Alistair Brightman

Man gives bone marrow to save life

DAVID Hanna is an ordinary bloke who gave an extraordinary gift to a complete stranger.

Last year the 44-year-old Maryborough school teacher travelled to Brisbane, admitted himself into hospital, went to sleep under a general anaesthetic and had marrow sucked out of his pelvis.

His selfless act changed the life of an unknown recipient, a person David will never meet.

The operation carries the same risk of any surgery involving an anaesthetic but David is humble about what he did.

“It seems a fairly lazy life-saver,” he said.

“It was such an easy thing to do.

“I just laid down and went to sleep and the doctors did all the work.”

Afterwards he felt a bit stiff and sore, “like I’d done a heavy day’s exercise”, but otherwise there were no side effects.

A bone marrow transplant can save the life of a person suffering from diseases such as leukaemia.

David signed up to be a bone marrow donor nearly 20 years ago when he was still studying at university.

While there are several thousand people on the bone marrow register, very few will ever be asked to donate.

“Close relatives are more likely to be compatible for bone marrow donations, so it’s a rarity to be asked,” he said.

“I got a phone call out of the blue about three years ago and they asked if I remembered signing up.”

He had to undergo further tests to ensure his compatibility and last year he was flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital for the operation.

The registry organised the trip and paid for all his expenses.

“They used a large needle and pushed it through the top of my pelvic bone,” he said.

“They have to move the needle around a bit to extract the marrow. They did that on both sides of my pelvis.”

For David, giving bone marrow was as simple as giving blood: someone needed something he had, so he gave it.

In the days before David’s operation, the recipient had his bone marrow destroyed in readiness for the transfusion.

Strict privacy regulations mean David can’t have any direct contact with the recipient but a letter from the man’s mother was passed on to him by the registry.

“She said that all was going well. I’d like to know more but I’d find it hard to ask.

“I don’t want them to think they are under any obligation – they don’t owe me anything.

“It really seemed an easy thing to do that could help someone else,” he said.

And he says he would do it again.

But with the chances of that being extremely slim, he’ll just have to be satisfied with giving blood.

To find out more about becoming a bone marrow donor contact the Red Cross Blood Service on 13 14 95.



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