In 1993, I decided to attend the Nihonmachi Street Fair in San Francisco. I came across the AADP information table and the staff made a compelling case- that the most matches are made from donors within the same race. The statistic AADP reported to me about the critical demand for minority donors was unfortunate and seemed improbable that I would ever be a match, but I thought to myself,
Sure, why not?
A year later, I was contacted and informed that I was a suitable match to someone in need of a bone marrow transplant. I was in shock! But I completely understood that it was going to be a once in a life time opportunity, to give the gift of life to someone in need. I was honored and bless and I knew I was doing the right thing.
The donation process is an unforgettable experience. It was the first time I had gone under any kind of full general anesthesia or any kind of extended stay in a hospital. To calm my nerves, doctors gave a detailed walk-thru of the simple procedure. After the procedure was done, I was surprised to only feel as if I had taken a hard fall and hurt my butt. I was released the next day and just sore in the area for a few days. It was more uncomfortable than any extreme pain.
It has been more than 20 years since the donation. I did not meet my recipient, but I was given the opportunity to send a card. All I knew was that my bone marrow was going to give hope to a young lady, a hope for her second chance at life. While I respectful to the decision of her not responding, I pray things went well for her.
If I was given the chance to donate once again, I would absolutely, no hesitation! The odds off being a match are so rare that you should see this as a blessing from God…and that the sacrifice of the donation processes, overnight stay in the hospital, and short period of inconvenient pain is miniscule, it is NOTHING compared to the potentially lifesaving results. I believe we all have a purpose in life, a responsibility to our own race – we might be the only close match for a child, mother, father, brother,.. there really is NO risk.
Only when we give joyfully, without hesitation or thought of gain, we can truly
know what love means.
– Leo Buscaglia
Belle Santos is a 42 year-old Filipino American residing the Bay Area. She is no stranger to donation, she has donated blood several times. Passionate about making a difference in the communities, Belle is the advisor for the Pilipino Youth Coalition— Vallejo, Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Vallejo Chapter Secretary, fundraising committee member of Vallejo Benicia Humane Society, and that was just to name a few.