When English comedian, writer and presenter Stephen Fry highlighted an appeal on Twitter this week, it couldn't have come at a better time for Galway-based international oarsman Paul Giblin.
Giblin (31), who has twice taken gold at Henley Royal Regatta and has 17 Irish senior championship titles, is currently undergoing his fourth round of chemotherapy since he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April, 2012.
He is urgently seeking a perfect bone marrow match for a transplant procedure, and a new website initiated by a group of his “techie” friends caught Fry’s eye.
“Sadly I’m not eligible, but if you are – do consider registering,” Fry tweeted on Wednesday.
“There’s no finer thing than to save a life http://marrowmatch.eu” he added.
The Marrowmatch website and social media campaign "lit up", as a result, says Giblin – speaking to The Irish Times en route home from a "mini-moon" in Kerry with Cate, his wife of just a week.
“If people respond, it could benefit many others around the world like me, who are on a global registry awaiting a match,” the Army officer says.
Giblin has already had an autologous (own) stem-cell transplant and radiotherapy. When his cancer returned, he was told that his best chance for long-term remission was another stem-cell transplant, which he is scheduled to undergo next month – but so far St James’s Hospital in Dublin has only been able to find a “mismatch” for him.
Staff and alumni of NUI Galway, along with fellow rowers and Army colleagues have swung in behind the campaign to find an anonymous donor.
The response to the Marrowmatch website has led to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) holding a dedicated bone marrow recruitment clinic on Monday in Galway.
“Paul is the sort of guy who would do the same for anyone else,” say his rowing friends, including IT specialists Cormac and Niall Folan and French lecturer Ruadhán Cooke.
The IBTS clinic involves taking a small sample of blood to add to the database, and to cross check for matches.
It will run at the Cumasu Centre, Racing Lodge, Doughiska Road, Galway on Monday.
Anyone interested in attending the clinic on Monday, or other clinics in future, should e-mail BoneMarrow@ibts.ie and more information on the global registry is on marrowmatch.eu