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!