Friends ask if I’d be willing to donate again if I was a match, of course I would… wouldn’t you? What if someone in your family needs a donor? Until there’s a cure for these diseases, we will always continue to need people to get registered, you may help save someone’s life. (Continue reading)
I was in between classes, on my way to get lunch, when a student asked me if I was willing to give a small tube of blood for a bone marrow drive. I didn’t give it much thought, except sure why not if I’m a match then great if not at least I’ll be on the registry. A year and a half later, I received a phone call informing me that I was one of five possible donors but they needed to run a couple more blood tests before anything was finalized. Luckily enough, my Friend and I were the match and to think that some people have been on the registry for years and have never
been called and I was already a match.
The next step was for me to meet with the coordinator and doctor along with a loved one to get more information on the process. I wasn’t pressured that I “had” to do this since I was a match. They gave me all the time I needed to decide and let me ask as many questions as I wished. I even had a chance to talk to previous donors and read about donors who had met their recipients. At this point there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to go for it, this could possibly help someone live and give them another chance at life. All I knew was that on March 1999, my Friend was a 27 year old male with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and needed my bone marrow.
Some friends and family needed a little convincing on why someone would go through a medical procedure and donate bone marrow for a complete stranger. I questioned them back with:
What if someone in your family needs a donor? Wouldn’t you hope that if there was a match out there that that person would be willing to donate their bone marrow so that your loved one can live longer? Others questioned the risks of the procedures but we take risks everyday, even walking down the street is a risk, so going into the hospital isn’t much of a difference. Friends and family then showered me with support to the point that coworkers who I didn’t know were willing to donate vacation time to me if I needed more recovery time. Some thought it was a heroic deed but I didn’t see it that way, I thought of it as a human deed.
After all the prep procedures which included donating blood for myself, July 2, 1999 was the big day. My Mom took me to the hospital with my old teddy bear in hand like I was 8 years old again. I love hospitals and the medical field had always interested me and I couldn’t wait. Time passed as we waited in pre-op but soon enough they were bringing me to the operating room. The anesthesiologist asked me to count backwards starting from ten but all I remembered was 10…9…8. It seemed as if only five minutes had passed when I woke up and found myself in post-op. My first thoughts were,
That’s it? It’s all done? That really was it, all I needed to do was rest in the hospital room overnight. There was a little discomfort but recovery was fast, I didn’t even take the painkillers that the doctors had sent me home with and I was back at work in 3 days.
I wrote my Friend a couple of letters hoping for a response but I didn’t receive anything. Our one year anniversary arrived which meant that if each of us were willing to release our information to each other then we could meet but I didn’t receive a response. I was at peace that I may never receive a letter from my Friend or his family, all I needed was to know that he was out there somewhere with his family even a year later which was probably longer than if he didn’t have the donation. A little after the two-year anniversary, I received a letter that my Friend passed away. I cried because I felt that I lost a very close friend even though I never had a chance to meet him. We had a special bond that did not need a letter or meeting to solidify.
Unfortunately and ironically enough, a month after my donation, the answer that I gave to everyone on why I was willing to donate applied in my life. My own Uncle Tony, who was still very young had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, needed a bone marrow transplant. I couldn’t help but think how it would be if no one in the family matched and if there was someone who matched but decided not to donate. It’s rare but one of his brothers was a match who went through the PBSC donation (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell) for my uncle. Sadly, the donation didn’t work and my Uncle Tony passed away a few months after the donation.
Often times, many people don’t think that these types of “situations” would happen to them but sometimes we have to ask ourselves what if one day we do need someone else’s help. We can only hope that that person was willing to swab their cheeks to be registered and be willing to donate so we can have the possibility to spend more time with our loved one. Friends ask if I’d be willing to donate again if I was a match, of course I would… wouldn’t you? What if someone in your family needs a donor? Until there’s a cure for these diseases, we will always continue to need people to get registered , you may help save someone’s life.