A man who received a lifesaving stem cell transplant at St Bartholomew’s Hospital has been united with his donor on his wedding day.
Chris Golding, a 69 year old former craftsman from Essex, was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer in 2016.
In desperate need of a donor, he was matched via the national register with Irishman Mark Hoynes.
The pair had never met until earlier this year when Mark and his friend Chloe attended Chris’s wedding to long-term partner Lorraine at Colchester Castle.
Chris, who spent the last 18 years of his career supporting young adults with disabilities, said: “A year after my treatment I contacted my anonymous donor and we kept in touch via email.
“Myself and Lorraine, who has been with me every step of the way, decided to get married and it was only right to ask Mark to join us.
“Without him it wouldn't be happening so he flew over from Ireland and we met him for the first time at the airport.”
Instead of gifts, Chris and Lorraine asked guests to make a donation to the Anthony Nolan charity which united Chris with his donor.
Chris said: “It was a special day.. an emotional day.”
A stem cell or bone marrow transplant replaces damaged blood cells with healthy ones. It can be used to treat conditions affecting the blood cells such as leukaemia and lymphoma.
If it is not possible to use the patient's own stem cells for the transplant, a donor must be sought. The best chance of a match is from a brother or sister, or another close family member.
If there are no matches in the close family, a search is made via the British Bone Marrow Registry.
The first stem cell transplant at St Bartholomew’s Hospital took place in 1984. The team now perform around 170 procedures every year.
Chris, who also has a hereditary heart problem, was initially referred to St Bartholomew’s for chemotherapy. His consultant said the long-term solution was a transplant.
He said: “Everyone was marvellous and made it as comfortable as possible. I wouldn't have got through it without them.”
Mark said: “I spotted Anthony Nolan through a social media campaign and, already being a blood donor, I thought: ‘why not?'
“[When I was told about the match] I didn’t think too much of it as further tests may show you're not compatible. There were periods of radio silence, then the donation began process began at speed.
Mark, who has helped recruit more than 100 people from his local area to join the register, is calling on others to do the same.
“It’s a completely straightforward and painless process. Something quite small can have a huge impact on someone else.”