Did you know, that in one single day you can save someone’s life, while watching netflix? Neither did I until I was diagnosed with Leukemia, and told that without a bone marrow transplant, I wouldn’t survive.
When I was first diagnosed with Leukemia I barely understood how my own body worked, and why it wasn’t working properly- let alone understanding how a bone marrow transplant works. I literally didn’t know what a stem cell was, why you needed them, and that you could donate them just like blood.
Over the last few months I’ve had to attend many meetings, transplant classes and have done plenty of my own research on transplants, the donor process, and I wanted to share with you a couple quick things about becoming a bone marrow/Stem Cell donor and why you should consider it, or consider telling anyone you know who is of age to donate, why they should consider it too!
Donation is simple now, compared to a decade ago.
Advancements in treatment have also led to advancements in the treatments we use to harvest donor stem cells. Years ago a donor would have had to have their bones punctured by large needles, sometimes hundreds of times to withdraw the marrow necessary to complete a transplant. Kudos to all the donors who had to do it the hard way! You guys are BRAVE. Nowadays, Stem cell donation generally occurs peripherally. This means that the donor takes injections at home for a few days before the donation, which increase the amount of circulating stem cells released by their bone marrow. On donation day, the donor is hooked up to a machine that is similar to a dialysis machine. The donor’s blood is removed slowly through a machine that filters stem cells out into a separate bag, and the blood then goes back into the donor. This can take as little as 3 hours or as many as 12, depending on how well the injections to increase the stem cells worked. Once finished, the donor can go home! They saved a life, all in a single day’s work.
People still die waiting for a donor.
Yep, you read that right. It’s not an organ like a liver or lungs. People don’t need to die to save someone who need’s a transplant’s life. It doesn’t require major surgery for the donor. The donation process takes a single day and causes little to no medical issues for the donor and yet people still DIE waiting for a match. I was lucky enough to find one but not everyone does. This is because we are still working on increasing the awareness about stem cell and bone marrow donation, but there is plenty of work to be done.
Because the age limit to register as a donor is 35, and there are many physical ailments that can exclude donation, it is not always as easy to donate stem cells or bone marrow as blood. In order for a transplant to be successful the stem cells need to be as healthy as possible which creates some challenges around accessibility. I hope to continue to spread the word around colleges, universities and organizations that have a younger age demographic to consider registering while they are able.
Our donor bank needs a variety of donors to meet the needs of our multicultural and diverse society
Our donor bank is currently made up of a large percentage of caucasian donors, which is one of the reasons I had less issues finding a match. Unfortunately because of the DNA contained in Stem Cells, finding a match requires finding a donor with a similar background, and for minorities and mixed-race patients this can present an extreme challenge. A very small percentage of the international donor banks are minorities and we need to work harder to get the word out in all languages to everyone, of every culture, that one of their own could be saved, by them and only them. If you are mixed race, or not caucasian, we need you EVEN MORE.
Ready to become a HERO? It is SO easy. All you have to do is click this link– read some information about the eligibility and donation process, complete a small quiz and order your swab kit. It will come in the mail, and you can swab, send it back, and wait for the call to save someone’s life. It’s that easy! <3