Saturday, September 12, 2009

We make a living by what we get,
but we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill

I recently registered for the National Marrow Donor Program.

I had always thought about doing it but when I received "check this out" information from my sister-in-law's sister (did you follow that? It's Nick's brother's wife's sister) whose boyfriend has leukemia I felt a close connection to take the step. If I can do a few simple things and then have a sore back for a few days to help someone recover from a deadly illness, I'll do it.

After reading through the information it answered a lot of my questions. Be sure to check out the FAQ section which quickly addressed many of my concerns.

Here are some great myths and the real facts associated with bone marrow donation:

Bone marrow donation is painful.

General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure. Donors feel no needle injections and no pain during the marrow donation process. Afterwards, most donors feel some pain in the lower back for a few days or longer.


All bone marrow donations involve surgery.

There are two ways to donate. The majority of donations do not involve surgery. The patient's doctor most commonly requests a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which is non-surgical and outpatient. If the patient's doctor requests marrow, marrow donation is a surgical procedure, usually outpatient.

Pieces of bone are removed from the donor.

Pieces of bone are not removed from the donor.

In marrow donation, only the liquid marrow found inside the bones is collected. In a PBSC donation, cells are collected from the bloodstream in a process similar to donating plasma. For more details, see the steps of donation.

Donating bone marrow is dangerous and weakens the donor.

Though no medical procedure is without risk, there are rarely any long-term effects from donating. Only five percent or less of a donor's marrow is needed to save a life. After donation, the body replaces the donated marrow within four to six weeks.

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), which operates the Be The Match RegistrySM, screens all donors carefully before they donate to ensure they are healthy and the procedure is safe for them. We also educate donors, answer questions every step of the way, and follow up with donors after donation.

Bone marrow donation involves a lengthy recovery process.

PBSC donors take the drug filgrastim for five days leading up to donation and may have symptoms such as headache, bone or muscle pain, nausea, insomnia or fatigue during this time. These symptoms nearly always disappear one or two days after donating, and the donor is back to normal.

Marrow donors can expect to feel fatigue, some soreness or pressure in their lower back and perhaps some discomfort walking. Marrow donors can expect to be back to work, school and other activities within one to seven days. The average time for all symptoms to disappear is 21 days.


Donors have to pay for the donation procedure.

Donors never pay for donating and are never paid to donate. All medical costs are paid by the patient's medical insurance or by the patient, sometimes with assistance from the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). The NMDP, which operates the Be The Match Registry, reimburses donors for travel costs, and may reimburse other costs on a case-by-case basis.

Although a donor never pays to donate, many people do contribute toward donor registration costs when they join the registry.

If you feel so compeled I would really encourage you to join the registry. It was very easy to do and perhaps it will be your donation that will save someone's life.


Rachel H. said...

That's so great! What a great cause!!

Anonymous said...

Please be an organ donor too!

suburban prep said...

An anonymous bone marrow donor is who saved my sister's life when she received marrow 8 yrs ago. there are 7 siblings in all and none of us matched her. There was a young woman who gave of herself. In the 8 yrs since my sister and her donor have become the best of friends. they ran in the Chicago marathon just barely over two yrs later, they went to an Oprah show together, they have traveled to be with each other and now my sister's little 6 yr old will be in her donor's wedding as the flower girl.
(Due to the radiation and chemo my sister was unable to maintain a pregnancy, so my niece is adopted.)

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Great post...Just having a rainy day of blog hopping...enjoyed my visit at your blog. Hope you will stop by my new Christmas blog...just leaving a comment enters you for a great giveaway of ornaments on Oct 1st.

Mandy said...

What a lovely post. I sincerely support those who choose to be donors. I would be a donor, but I am underweight for what they require in donating anything physically, so I cannot. Although I wish I could!!! Kudos to you and all others who are able to take that generous step!

Lisa said...

I registered to be a donor back in college when a classmate, and campus leader, was diagnosed with Leukemia. It was a great campus turnout, in response. The only problem I have is I'm pretty sure they sell my personal and contact information. I wouldn't have as much of an issue with it, if it was permission-based and I knew they were using the money to help patients receive treatment... but since it's not transparent, I'm guessing not so much :-(

Perfectly Pleasant said...

How giving of you!

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