A Kirkcaldy firefighter who has helped to save hundreds of lives over almost 30 years in the service is now looking for help from the public to save his own.
Gary Dall (49) from Kirkcaldy has served most of his 29½ years at the Lang Toun station and works as a group manager.
Now his colleagues are rallying round to help him fight potentially the biggest battle of his life, after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of myelodysplasia, a blood cancer in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells.
The only long-term treatment is a stem cell transplant, and the local fire station is planning a donor drive for the Anthony Nolan Trust, encouraging more people to join the register to become a potential bone marrow donor – and possibly find a match for Gary.
The event has secured the backing of Raith Rovers football team, and members joined Gary after midweek training to publicise the drive on Saturday, September 16 from 11am-4pm.
Ironically it was the treatment father-of-four Gary received during a trial to attempt to cure his Crohn’s disease which caused the cancer. It was picked up during a routine blood test as his blood count was falling and weeks of tests confirmed the diagnosis of MDS in June.
“It is just one of those things that a treatment for one disease led to me getting another. It’s not nice, but I’m just taking things as they come and hoping that a match can be found,” said Gary.
“When we first found out my family were shocked, and it has taken a bit of getting used to.
“Encouraging people to register with the Anthony Nolan Trust is something the fire service has done for some time, and hopefully even if this drive doesn’t find a match for me, it will help other people.”
Any healthy person between the ages of 16 and 30 can register to become a stem cell donor. All they have to do is complete a form and fill a ‘spit kit’ with saliva. They must not have eaten or drank anything for 30 minutes beforehand.
Ali Boyle, a former firefighter who was diagnosed with MDS in 2008, has been working with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Anthony Nolan Trust partnership to encourage more people to register.
He said: “We’ve helped put 8500 people on the register and 25 have gone on to donate. We hope lots of people come along to the event at Kirkcaldy fire station on September 16.”