Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bone Marrow Donations

Speaking of donations:

In 2005, there was a woman near me, living in South Orange, who had a fatal disease and was hoping for a bone marrow transplant to increase her chances of survival. I don't think she received it, and she died soon after the word went out. Before she died, her family organized a local drive for many of us to test for eligibility to donate. Many of us in the area went in and had our cheeks swabbed. It was very easy. We are registered with the Gift Of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.

Since then, I've been getting periodic emails about what's going on in the organization.

In the meantime, I mentioned this to my cousin who is only a few months younger than I am. She is diagnosed with leukemia, though she is symptom-free. She is on an experimental drug program to keep it in check. I don't understand this, so take it at face value. She is on disability, and the drugs reduce the amount of energy she has throughout the day. Since she might one day need a bone marrow transplant, I mentioned I could donate to her, if I'm eligible. She was quite touched. Of course, it would be a big deal for her, but I tend to look at it for what it means to me. It would hurt, but it would be a relatively small sacrifice for me, especially given how big the payoff could be.

Today, I got a call from Gift of Life, saying there's a patient who needs a transplant and I might be a candidate. She's 37 years old, and that's all I know. I'll be going in for tests, and if I'm a candidate, there will be one of two procedures. The 20% likely one will be pretty painless, and the 80% likely one will be fairly painful. Apparently, a lot of the pain comes from the drugs, not the procedure. But I think she said the pain should only last a week. I was picturing them carving open my femur (after cutting through my quadricep) to get the marrow, but I guess not, and that's a good thing, though I'd be game for that.

So this might happen. Stay tuned. I knew this might happen, and here it is, six years later, and now it really might happen. I'm rather excited.


  1. Wow, Tommy ... I really admire your giving spirit. I have a hard time with the concept of even getting a blood test, let alone giving blood - or, sweet jeebus, donating marrow. o.O

    I do wish you and the patient the best outcomes possible.

  2. I believe I registered for the same person you did in 2005. Unfortunately, she did not get a match in time. It's nice to know that her legacy might continue with your ability to help this person.

  3. Tom, good for you and THANKS for being there. Fortunately chemo has to date fixed my AML Leukemia but alot of my roomates and friends from MSKCC are living full healthy lives thanks to guys like you. Bravo!!

  4. Also checkout our neighbor Kathy Seeley's blog at "A Rare Cancer Journey" JIM

  5. Thanks, folks.

    Anonymous (do I know you?), that's one of the most exciting things about this. I am certain that the the woman knew she might die soon and that her plea for help might save someone else instead. I'm also certain she took comfort in that.

    Dossy, I used to be afraid every time I gave blood, and I've given blood many times over the years. But I keep doing it, and I guess it has prepared me to do this, something generous and potentially painful. Now I feel no pain at blood donations. I eventually learned to relax which somehow eliminated the small pain there used to be. I recommend blood donation to many people, including you, and I assure them that the pain diminishes over time. Even if it doesn't, it's worth it. The blood banks say the blood is desperately needed.

    Jim, thanks for those stories and the link. I'll read!