Thursday, July 19, 2012

Marrow Donation

I joined the National Marrow Donation Registry 3 years and 1 month ago today. I didn't have a reason to do it really. I'm lucky to not have been directly affected or related to someone that would need a marrow transplant. I did want to help though. I am an organ donor and if something were to happen to me I would want my organs to help others. Becoming a marrow donor was easy to do and why not help if I am able?

A few statistics but not enough to bore you from the website:
Over 10,000 people each year need transplants, over half don't receive one.
70% of patients don't have a match within their family and rely on the registry to find a donor.
People ages 18-44 are 10 times more likely to be called to donate
There are over 70 life-threatening diseases out there that marrow transplants can give someone a second chance at beating.

There are two ways to join the registry:
In Person

If you choose the online registration, which is what I did, once you are signed up they will send you a cheek swab kit. You'll follow the instructions on the kit and mail it back. If everything is done correctly you'll get added to the registry.

For the past three years I received regular email newsletters and was asked to keep my information up to date.

Today I received an email that I was a possible match for marrow donation.

I chose to call back, but there is an online option to respond. I gave my information and was asked if I was still interested in donating. I was then asked basic health and medical questions - medications, height and weight, general health, if I was diabetic or had AIDS. We also discussed the two ways to donate.

The first is to be put under anesthesia and have the marrow removed from your hip. It's an outpatient procedure that takeslabour 90 minutes. I was told the Dr. requests this about 25% of the time.

The other 75% is similar to platelet or plasma donation. Your blood is removed through a needle in one arm, the stem cells are separated and the remaining blood is then put back through a needle in your other arm. This process can take 6 hours and you'll need to receive injections in the 5 days preceding the donation.

For now that's it.

I don't know anything about the person I may be helping. Right now it's preliminary. Their Dr. is working on a treatment plan and finding a potential donor if it's needed is part of that plan. It could be that I'm not the best match. It could be that they don't decide to do a transplant. Maybe some long lost family member pops up. It could unfortunately be something worse that happens.

If the patient decides to go through with the donation, and if I am the best match, I'll go through further screenings and information sessions. If it does, I'll update here as the process moves forward.

Please consider becoming a donor. You can also give monetarily or consider donating your baby's cord blood.


  1. good on you my friend! I signed up over 12 years ago and I keep my record updated regularly but I've never been contacted at all. I volunteered in person and after the nurse asked me some demographic questions he shook his head and said, "you're pretty vanilla - don't be surprised if no one ever contacts you". :-(
    To any expectant moms - Please, please, please donate your baby's cord blood. It is such a remarkable resource that would otherwise be destroyed as medical waste.

  2. This caught my eye while reading your current post. Whatever happened with this? Did you donate? Are you donating the baby's cord blood or banking it for yourself?


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