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!