20,000 new stem cell donors after woman's call to help boyfriend with leukemia

Pim Trommelen
Pim Trommelen. Photo: Laura van der Weide / Facebook

A young Dutch woman's call for help for her boyfriend, who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, resulted in some 20 thousand people registering to be stem cell donors with Matchis, the Dutch center for stem cell donors.

Laura van der Weide and her boyfriend Pim Trommelen, 29, planned to start working on a family this spring. Instead Pim started chemotherapy on May 1st. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia a few weeks ago. A stem cell donor is his only hope. On Friday Laura "My dear friend, my traveling companion, my calm half has an aggressive form of leukemia", she wrote in an emotional call. "I hope we that we can give him something together: a chance for a suitable match and therefore a chance for life."

Pim is currently in quarantine at the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam for chemotherapy. The chemo kills his blood cells, and he needs new blood cells from a donor. "These cells will hopefully attack and kill his last remaining leukemic cells', Laura wrote. "In order to get to the best match, we need multiple people who want to register as donors. The chance that you are called is very small, but it can save a life. Maybe not Pim's, but there are plenty of others who can also use a miracle."

The call for stem cell donors was shared over 53 thousand times since Friday, and resulted in numerous calls to Matchis, according to broadcaster NOS. The Dutch center for stem cell donors received 20 thousand new registrations since Friday. "And last year we had 50 thousand in the whole year. So this is certainly remarkable", Matchis spokesperson Bert Elbertse said to the broadcaster. 

The new applications offer hope, but don't immediately promise good news, Elbertse added. "First of all they are applications. About a third of the applications don't send back the test set they receive at home. That means that they are not officially registered." The other question is whether there will be a match for Pim among the registrations. "But the more people sign up, the better the chance."

"Pim's story is terribly sad, but it is great to see how many people want to help him", Elbertse said. 

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