SOLDIER’S STORY: From fighting for his country to fighting for his life

BMT patient shares his recovery tale – Jamie with identical twin daughters, Erin and Eva

By Lucy Ashton

A former soldier has celebrated his sixth year of being cancer free after being told he was days away from death by doctors.

Jamie Buchanan, 45, is one of many patients to have received a successful bone marrow transplant (BMT) from the team at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Treatment Centre.

A soldier for more than 10 years, serving tours in Northern Ireland and the second Gulf War, Jamie was very much the picture of health. Working as an armed response police officer, with twins on the way, illness wasn’t further from his mind.

Jamie’s illness started with minor back pain, which graduated to severe night sweats before he experienced a bout of acute chest pain leading to an admission Ninewells hospital in Dundee, where he was diagnosed with leukaemia.

Jamie said: “I was in and out of consciousness and was whisked away to HDU before being moved on to the haematology ward. My first thought was ‘I’ve had a good run but it’s over’. I was there with my wife who’s six months pregnant and we’re thinking I won’t get to see my kids.”

Unfortunately the cause of the cancer turned out to be a faulty gene, known as the ‘philadelphia positive’ meaning despite chemotherapy, the cancer would likely come back. Jamie’s only hope would be a bone marrow transplant. Luckily, thanks to the Antony Nolan Bone Marrow Register, Jamie was matched with a German donor, and he was quickly put through a strong bout of chemotherapy to prepare for the transplant which took place at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in 2016.

Now, six years on, Jamie is back at work and back to full fitness, incorporating a strict regime of running, weights and training. Most importantly, he has been there to look after his identical twin daughters, Erin and Eva. 

Jamie said: “I consider every single member of staff as lifesavers and angels. I simply would not be here without them. I’d encourage anyone to sign up as a bone marrow donor as well. It’s such a simple process – not dissimilar to giving blood – and you could help save someone’s life.”

The BMT team is now based out of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. Susan Groom, Director for Regional Services, including BMT, said:

“We’re proud of the service our BMT team provides at the Beatson, and it’s fantastic to see patients like Jamie make a full recovery after what was an extremely difficult time, both at the point of his diagnosis, through to his operation and recovery. Thanks to the selflessness of donors, our teams are able to perform this procedure which in many cases, is life-saving.”

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