PBSC Donation

A couple of years ago I signed up to be a bone marrow donor.  I did this at the ‘Ride for Life’ event at work.  Oddly enough, I tried to donate blood at that time, but could not because of an erratic heart beat.

After I signed up, I didn’t hear anything back from the donor center until just a few months ago.  I found out that I was a match for a 64 year old woman with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  I went through initial blood tests and information sessions, then was told that I wouldn’t need to donate immediately.   This can sometimes happen if there is some change in the recipient’s condition, or a timing issue with treatment.

Earlier this week, I found out that the donation can now move forward.  Today I received the information package with lots of reading material and a DVD.  So I guess I have more homework to deal with!

I’m getting pretty excited by this whole adventure.  Apparently patients who do not receive donation have a 0-15% chance of survival, whereas patients who receive donation have a 30%-60% chance of survival.  It’s a pretty simple calculation, so I’m not sure why more people don’t donate.  PBSC donation is pretty simple and doesn’t involve general anesthetic.  The process involves 5 days of filgrastim injections to generate more stem cells in the blood, then two apheresis procedures over two days.  There are some potential side effects of the filgrastim, and most people experience some bone pain.  I figure a few days of bone pain isn’t that much of a issue compared to the potential for the patient.

So now I’m scheduled for donation during the first week of March.  I do need to check with the marrow donation center to see if my blood donation a couple of weeks ago will affect the marrow donation timeline.  According to the forms from the blood center, I’m good to donate blood around mid-March, but it doesn’t say anything about apheresis.

So far 2011 is shaping up to be an interesting year!