September 28, 2011

I'm getting called up.....

I was notified Monday that the blood testing I had the other week confirms I am a good match for someone needing my bone marrow.  There was little to no doubt in my mind that this would be the result since I had gone through this confirmatory testing twice before.  The National Marrow Donor Program had to know where my blood mapped out from the earlier tests.  It is my assumption that they just needed to confirm I haven't picked up any contagious diseases since last time.

I was told that the recipient's doctor wants marrow, not my white blood cells, so that means some surgery.  My first thought was great since I really didn't look forward to a week of being drugged and a couple of hours with needles in my arm.  For some reason over the last decade I have become a bit adverse to needles.  I can handle shots just fine, but getting blood drawn makes me feel weak.  Coming from someone who used to donate blood all the time.....I think I managed to hit the 1 gallon mark, this is an uncomfortable change.
I shouldn't have Googled pictures!

Of course, marrow donation involved a HUGE needle getting stuck in my hip, but I won't see and will have some level of anesthesia.

The only "bad" news for me is that I won't be going to Denver like I was originally told, but instead will be going down to Salt Lake City, UT.  The preliminary date is the end of October.

It has been interesting dealing with folks from the Donor Program.  They are nice and all, but I have a feeling they are used to dealing with people who either don't have a clue, or maybe need some convincing.  Personally, I think that you should fill your clue-bag before you agree to register to possibly donate.  When they asked me about my availability my response was something to the effect of, "Thursday at the earliest".  I don't know their timeline since they didn't tell me.  There was some concern that maybe I had a trip or something planned.

Seriously?

I'm reasonably sure that our planned Halloween Party for the Toastmasters group is right out, at least for me.  I may not be 100% for the Toastmaster's District 15 Conference the next week back in SLC.  When I told my wife about the call and gave her the info they had given me she asked if I was alright with going forward with this donation.  The question was a non-issue for me.  For one, I generally don't have a problem sticking up for myself, so if there was an issue, I'd have already addressed it.

For those of you who may not know me very well, I may have some personal issues (as do we all), but one thing I feel strongly about is that one should ALWAYS remain true to your word.  Sure there is always an exception to every rule and sometimes it is simply impossible to keep a promise, but in all other cases you need to do what you say you will.  I promised this program nearly 20 years ago that I was willing to donate blood or marrow should the need arise.  I renewed that promise when I agreed to go in for confirmatory testing.

I see no reason to renege on that promise now.  Seriously though, who wouldn't be willing to undergo some mild discomfort in order to save someones' life?  If you wouldn't, I sure as hell don't want you on my team!

On a related note, I went link-hopping on the marrow.org website and discovered a little bit about what it is like to be on the receiving end of a marrow donation.

  • First of all, it sucks to be you 'cause you are sick as hell.  
  • Add on top of that the fact that the whole process is very expensive.  
  • Make sure your family is prepared for if you don't make it.  
  • There is a 70% chance you cannot get marrow or blood from a family member so you have to rely on strangers and the marrow registry.
  • Only about half of the 10,000 people who need a donation receive one
  • You have to go through chemo and/or radiation therapy before you can get the donation.
  • Recovery is a year or more of additional suckitude
Still, all this beats the alternative.  I definitely am the lucky one in this.

There are over 16.5 million people on the global donor network and it looks like about 9 million here in the US registry.  It costs about $100 to get a new person on the registry.  $100?!  It makes sense with all of the testing, filing, etc that has to be done, but it looks to me like we as a country are shouldering about 56% of the workload here.  At least we seem to be doing the work [insert random patriotic slogan here].

There are lots of ways you can help.
  • Join the registry!
  • If you are about to have a baby, you can donate your umbilical cord blood, which is chock-full-o-nuts, er...I mean good blood cell stuff.  Evidently they usually just throw them away....it's not like you want to put it in a jar on your mantle or anything.
  • There are multiple ways to donate.



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