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“This is my only chance to survive”

“This is my only chance to survive”
A simple cheek swab is enough to be included in the global database as a potential stem cell donor.

Josef Kücher has a chance: after a long search, his genetic twin has finally been found. With the help of the stem cell donation, he should soon feel better. His club, FC Pischelsdorf, is happy for him and is also looking for suitable stem cell donors for other sick people. The footballers are inviting people to a typing event with the “Give for Life” association (more at the end of the article). Josef Kücher hopes that as many people as possible will register as donors and thus be able to save the lives of sick people.

Mr. Kücher, the most important question first: How are you?

I’m feeling better than before the chemotherapy. The only drawback for me is that I’m so weak. I’m actually a sporty guy, but now I have to pant when I get up.

Speaking of sports: you are a member of FC Pischelsdorf, which organizes a typing campaign for stem cell donors. Originally to find a donor for you. That shows a great connection to the club.

Yes, still – I’m relatively old now (laughs). So I’m a veteran, I was actually almost there when it was founded and was an official, trainer and referee for a long time. I usually watch every game.

Normally, before the diagnosis of leukemia. When did you receive these?

At the end of November last year, I was diagnosed with MDS. This is a type of precursor to leukemia. And then things went rapidly downhill. I got the diagnosis in February. Some people live well with MDS for years without it getting worse, but for me it only took a few months.

What symptoms did you have before the diagnosis?

I had a blood test and the results were not right. I had to go to the hospital and have a bone marrow sample taken and then they diagnosed MDS. I could feel for myself that the disease was progressing rapidly. Then they said I urgently needed a donor.

The search was ultimately successful, who is the donor?

This is my cousin. At the beginning you only test the children and siblings, the immediate family. There was no suitable donor. That’s why the club started this typing campaign so that we can find one. And then we looked in the wider family environment, and actually, my cousin fits.

Great news that gives hope, right?

Yes. I am an optimist, but also a realist. Yes, I have hope now, but so many other things can go wrong, there are many risks. But in the end: there is only this way for me, it is my only chance of surviving this illness.

You are perceived as a very positive person, how do you manage not to lose confidence in the face of these risks and difficult times?

I said from the beginning that I wouldn’t fall into a hole. At the beginning I felt very bad, but I just tried to get through the day well and then again the next day. At first the bad news came and you started to despair. But those were only short phases for me. With the positive news now it’s easier. But of course, there is still a long way to go. But I approach it positively. There are other patients who have no chance at all.

For example, many of those who have not yet found a stem cell donor. Do you have an appeal you would like to make?

Yes. The more people get typed, the greater the likelihood that others will find their genetic twin and have hope. I would also like the media and society to talk more about this possibility. There are so many people, including in our region, who are looking for a stem cell donor!

Typing campaign by FC Pischelsdorf

Stem cell donations are the last resort in the fight against leukemia, rare blood diseases and genetic defects. If chemotherapy and radiation do not help, a donor is sought to rebuild the diseased immune system with healthy stem cells.

In the Pischelsdorf gymnasium there will be on Tuesday, May 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. to the typing campaign for stem cell donors. Voluntary donations are also collected for the association “Give for Life”, the Austrian Leukaemia Aid. Each typing costs the association 40 euros.
“We hope that many people will take advantage of this opportunity, come and get their blood typed,” says chairman Patrick Staller.

How does typing work? Healthy men and women between the ages of 17 and 45 can be typed. Typing is done using a cheek swab. The characteristics of all typed people are entered into a database that can be viewed by authorized search centers worldwide. Those who are eligible to be donors are contacted. Donations can be made using stem cells taken from the bloodstream or through bone marrow donations (note: not spinal cord!)

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