The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is throwing its full support behind an appeal to find a lifesaving stem cell donor for one of its own senior officers.
Group Manager Gary Dall has stood on the front line for almost 30 years to protect communities at a range of different emergencies.
But the father-of-four is now in desperate need of a donor after being diagnosed last month with myelodysplastic syndrome.
He has already started treatment to try and manage his illness, but has been told he needs chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant to deliver a positive long term outcome.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is now launching an open patient appeal for Gary at Kirkcaldy fire station on Saturday, September 16.
Brave Gary, 49, said: “I am hugely grateful of the support from the fire service. The support from colleagues and senior officers has been really appreciated.
“It was a feeling of disbelief when I was told in June of my diagnosis. The consultant told that I was considered as being urgently in need of a transplant.
“I now receive chemo for seven days straight every fourth week and my brother in New Zealand has been tested. The chances of him being a match are 25 per cent.
“But I’m trying to go on as normal until I get the call.
“I would urge anyone who can be screened for the stem cell donor list to sign up. Even if you aren’t a match for me, there are so many others in a similar situation who you may be able to help.”
The appeal to help Gary - and others in need of stem cell donation - is being led by Group Manager Mark Bryce.
The SFRS has an award winning partnership with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan and has already seen over 8,500 people sign up to the stem cell register which has resulted in 25 lives being saved.
GM Bryce, also based at Kirkcaldy Fire Station, said: “Gary is a real hero who has an outstanding record when it comes to assisting and protecting communities.
“But he now needs a hero of his own and we are doing everything in our power to find that person.
“We will be out in force at the event this weekend – including many who are volunteering their own time in the hope of finding that miracle match.
“I would like to take this opportunity to ask our communities to please, please step forward to assist a firefighter who has contributed so much to others.
“Anyone who joins this life-saving register to help a complete stranger is also a real hero in our eyes.”
Anyone between the ages of 16-30 and in good health is welcome to head along to the station to provide a small saliva sample to join the stem cell register.
GM Andy Watt has spearheaded the lifesaving alliance between the SFRS and the charity, and is now Chair of the Partnership.
He said: “This partnership between ourselves and Anthony Nolan has been crucial in saving lives and I am confident that the residents of Kirkcaldy and the surrounding area will help us to support this major push for Gary.
“This is a firefighter who has committed his life to protecting others. This is a chance to do something for Gary and so many others out there who need a vital donation.
“Joining the register is very straightforward and only takes 10 minutes. There are many myths and misconception about stem cell/bone marrow donation – but as many as 90 per cent of people now donate their stem cells, not their bone marrow. It’s a simple, painless process and very similar to giving blood.”
He added: “The SFRS/Anthony Nolan partnership has evolved over the years and now focuses on delivering recruitment events in schools, ensuring we are adding quality donors to the register.
“Young adults under 30 years of age have a far higher chance of being a match for someone and the transplant has a greater chance of success with better patient outcomes.
“We’re fortunate that a number of areas across our Scotland-wide service have stepped forward, volunteering to be involved and establishing volunteer groups within their respective areas.
“This will enable us to recruit even greater numbers of young people onto the register and help save more lives of people with blood cancer. We are extremely grateful and appreciative of that.”
Amy Bartlett, Register Development Manager for Anthony Nolan said: “I’m really looking forward to working with our close partners in the SFRS in Kirkcaldy to recruit even more potential lifesavers to the Anthony Nolan register - every person who signs up at this event has the potential to help someone like Gary who’s in need of a stem cell transplant.”
To find out how you can save a life go to www.anthonynolan.org/sfrs