Be the Match!

I found out some exciting news today that I am eager to share.

A close friend of mine (who wishes to remain anonymous at this time) told me tonight that she got a phone call last week about being a potential match for someone needing a bone marrow donor. I had forgotten, but my friend reminded me that she had joined the registry a while back when I sent an email urging friends to become potential donors.

I joined the registry immediately after John was diagnosed. I remember thinking that I sure hoped someone would be willing to step up and donate marrow or stem cells to MY husband if he one day had to have a transplant to live. And my next thought was that every person who needs a transplant is someone's loved one. I could be a match and possibly save someone's life by donating something my healthy body will quickly replenish. I also learned (by doing research) that it is not the excruciatingly painful ordeal some believe it is. Anesthesia is given for a bone marrow donation. And stem cell donations can now be given through blood rather than marrow. That's not to say there is no discomfort whatsoever. I just want to help debunk the myth that horrific pain is involved. I know that scares people. Pain scares me.

I joined the registry in 2007 and I am still hoping I will one day get that call saying I'm a potential match for someone. So far, I haven't. But I was so excited when my friend told me that she has. It's the next best thing to getting the call myself, since she told me that John and I were her inspiration to join. Hearing her news brought tears to my eyes because I know what it means to a patient and their family to find a match. I have made many online friends who are battling leukemia. Many of them have been battling a lot longer than John and some are running out of options. And I felt such a deep sense of gratitude for my friend's willingness to give this gift to someone she may never even meet.

We talked about the mixed emotions of excitement and slight trepidation. There are always potential risks and side effects for medical procedures. I have imagined how I would feel if I got the call and I presumed that I might feel anxious as well as elated. This is a very generous and selfless thing to do. I am so proud of my friend.

Because searches for potential matches are often done before the patient has fully decided on the transplant or before all the requirements have been met, my friend may not get another call right away. And even if she does, after further testing, she may not turn out to be the perfect match. This phone call does not mean that she is definitely going to be a donor. But it's the first step. And she was eager to share the news with me.

Before she could ask me, I volunteered to go with her to any or all of her appointments for testing and even for the procedure if it happens. She was hoping I would and had planned to ask. I told her I would have been disappointed if she hadn't. I would feel honored to be a part of this; even just driving her back and forth and sitting beside her would be so meaningful and rewarding for me. I immediately thought of all my CLL friends online and their individual battles. This isn't just about John and Marian for me. Obviously, they are my greatest concern because they are so close and dear to me. But every patient is dear to someone. I feel that bond with other caregivers. What my friend is offering to do for someone is huge. Should she be a perfect match, she has the opportunity to extend someone's life who might otherwise have no hope.

I could go on and on about what I'm feeling emotionally. I have always hoped that either I would be able to donate or I could be instrumental in someone else becoming a donor. No matter what happens in this particular circumstance, though, it's a reminder to me (and hopefully to everyone reading) of what a difference one person can make. Please consider joining the registry.

I asked my friend if I could write about this on my blog without identifying her. She said yes. Her only request was that I ask you all to pray for God's will to be done.

If this donation becomes a reality, my prayer is that the transplant will be successful and everything will go smoothly for both the patient and the donor!

And I will post further developments if and when...



Stephanie said…
That is very exciting news. I too joined the registry after Tim was diagnosed, I have been listed since Jan 2002 and have never been called, hopefully someday I will get a call.
Have a Merry Christmas,
WallStreet07 said…
Shari: I discovered recently that I have a small chance of developing multiple myeloma, the Doctor said a 1% chance per year. That is small, but, brings home the fact that everyone is vulnerable. I would join the registry if I could, but, not sure, because of my renal transplant. What is the process to find out. Larry
Shari said…
Larry, I don't think you're eligible. You can only donate until the age of 60. But the "BE THE MATCH" at the bottom of my post is a link to the national bone marrow registry if you want to check for more information.

Stephanie, hopefully you and I both will have the opportunity to donate to someone before we reach the cut off age! Merry Christmas to you too. I assume Tim is still doing well. Hope so.
Anonymous said…
Tim is doing very well, his CSF is cleared of any cancer cells, and sytemic disease is still in check as it was on the CAL 101 trial. He has been off of that since 8-1, that show's promise in my book.


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