Tuesday 2nd September was the bone marrow study day at St George’s healthcare NHS Trust. With over 80 delegates attending, the afternoon session brought together a mixture of professionals from the haematology and surrounding teams with an aim to improve their knowledge of the bone marrow transplant process.

Dr Mickey Koh, consultant haematologist and the clinical lead for stem cell transplantation at St George’s Hospital opened the afternoon talks by introducing the audience to the hurdles faced during bone marrow transplantation, discussing the hospital infrastructure and the critical multi-disciplinary teams required for a successful transplant programme.

Past, present and future patients were in the audience, and we were privileged to welcome Chris Lewis, a transplant patient of ours to give a patient perspective to the process.

We also had talks from the Anthony Nolan trust, Macmillan and to close the day there was a moment of creativity when Kingston school of drama took to the stage to perform a dance entitled ‘chimaerism’.

Chris Lewis, St George’s transplant patient said, “I was delighted to be asked to share my experience at my own hospital. The audience was a great mix of patients and professionals, all willing to learn and share with each other. Telling my story provided a great platform for dialogue, and I was very moved by some of the interaction during my question and answers session. My opinion is that this kind of event will aid communication between patient and professional, and should appear regularly on the hospital calendar.”

Amy Evans, Anthony Nolan Trust said, “We are always struck by the incredibly challenging journey that patients go through when they receive a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. We offer support and information for patients and their family members before, during, and after their treatment. St George’s study afternoon was a fantastic opportunity to hear from patients and tell them about the support available to them.”

June Allen, Macmillan told the audience about a very exciting partnership between Macmillan cancer support and St George’s Hospital where, over the next few years we will be working together to identify ways to improve the patient pathway and environmental refurbishments. She said, “Macmillan has helped to fund a cancer information and support centre at St George’s which offers information for patients, relatives, carers and professionals. Macmillan also helps to support the trusts cancer patient user group called VOICE in terms of training days and funding for their newsletters and information leaflets.”

The final contribution of the day, a dance performance entitled ‘chimearism’, is the last scene of a full-length show called Bloodlines. Bloodlines was created by the Chimera Network, a research project supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and based at Kingston University. The performers are Adam Kirkham (choreographer) and Viviana Rocha with music by Milton Mermikides (Leukaemia survivor) and direction by Alex Mermikides (his donor). In ‘chimaerism’, we imagine the donor and recipient’s blood coming together after transplant with the movement of the dancers inspired by the slow and mysterious process of engraftment.

Feedback from patients and staff has been very positive. Future events are planned to be held on a smaller scale and to be aimed at professionals and patients separately to provide the support that these groups may need. It was a pleasure to see so many patients present and for them to have the opportunity to know that they are not alone. We would like to thank everyone who helped to make it such a successful day.