Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Blood, Bone Marrow and Wandering Guests

I had a very busy evening yesterday with juggling blood donation, bone marrow sampling and having guests getting lost en-route to our Brittany Holiday Cottage.

After work I was supposed to be going to Give Blood in central London, something I've been doing 3 times a year since just after I turned 18. I feel that it's kind of like a bank, if you don't make donations then when you (or your family) need to make a withdrawal, there might not be anything in the bank [at this stage the analogy breaks down and any thoughts of receiving interest on your donation are not worth thinking about!]. Anyway I've now given about 56 donations so this was to be just a regular event.

On Saturday however I received a pack from the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust telling me that I was a possible match to a Leukaemia sufferer and I was through to a final matching round. They wanted a further blood sample from me to do the match, and if positive then I would be asked to make a Bone Marrow donation.

Both my wife and I (Liz) have been on the Bone Marrow register for years after we went to an inspirational talk by one of their fund raising managers. Just seeing the difference a bone marrow donation can make to someone's life is incredible - recipients can be two weeks away from death but within a week of receiving a donation they're up and about as if nothing had ever been wrong with them. Although Liz has had a second round match before (but unfortunately wasn't a close enough final match), I've never been called up before so it was quite exciting.

Spoke to the Anthony Nolan Trust on Monday to confirm my details and was told that they wouldn't be able to harvest my marrow if I'd had a donation in recent weeks. I therefore had to cancel the blood appointment until they'd determined whether I was a close final match or not.

Getting to my own local GP in Bedfordshire to take the donation was going to be a pain (as I'm working in London right now) so I thought I'd go to the Blood centre and they could take the sample. Although I couldn't give blood right now I had also been asked some time ago by the National Blood service if I would consider going on their platelet donation panel, and they wanted a sample to check for that. I couldn't give the platelet sample at the normal blood donation centre so was going to have to travel to their 'fixed location' bases in Luton or Edgware. So I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone, go to Edgware and give the Anthony Nolan sample and the platelet sample.

Unfortunately I didn't read my notes about where to go properly (or their website) so I trekked off (by tube) to the blood service's central testing and distribution in Collingdale, not Edgware. After walking from the station to the hospital I found it was completely the wrong place and had to take the tube back two stops up the line, and a further 15 minute walk to a different hospital - argh!

Finally getting there literally minutes before they closed they were really helpful and were really enthusiastic about taking the Anthony Nolan sample for me. Unfortunately they didn't want to take the platelet sample as well because if I was "The Chosen One" that matched to a Leukaemia sufferer and made a bone marrow donation then I wouldn't be able to give blood for a year and they'd have to start again with a new platelet sample afterwards.

So stuck the Anthony Nolan blood sample in the post to them and now wait to see - I should hear either way in a month or so.

Meanwhile over in France it was changeover day for the Gite and there was a party of 6 arriving for a week's holiday. Unfortunately they were having problems following the directions and couldn't find the place. Liz was at home receiving several mobile phone calls and kept trying to tell them how to locate it. By the time they all managed to get through to me I was at the Edgware blood centre trying to explain to them why I was there.
Guests getting lost on the way is always a worry in the back of my mind but we spent a lot of time writing out travel directions from all the different French ports and airports that holiday makers could travel over via. Our very first set of guests had problems en-route because I’d missed out a critical “go two miles down the road” from the instructions, but after this was corrected we’ve had no problems ever since and guests have commented on the quality of the directions given.

Anyway our frustrated guests were actually in the adjacent village and been repeatedly driving past the side turning to the Gite. 30 seconds on the phone to them and they’d realised the mistake and were at the front door.

Incidentally in France the ‘Give Blood’ organisation is called ‘Don du Sang’ (almost a literal translation of the English). We’ve seen them in nearby towns when holidaying ourselves. Reminds me of referring to someone as being ‘Sang Froid’ – literally Cold Blooded.


Post a Comment

<< Home