When you woke up this morning what was the first thing that went through your mind? Bills, school, work, maybe.
For the parents of children with leukemia, the first thing they thought of when they woke up this morning was: I hope today is the day we find a donor for our child.
I know donating bone marrow is the last thing you thought about doing when you woke up, but when you go to bed tonight I hope it is the last thing you think about before shutting your eyes.
The major drawback of patients depending on us to donate is that there are not enough of us willing to keep them all alive.
15,000 people are told they need a bone marrow transplant each year. This is because of a life-threatening disease. One of these diseases is leukemia which kills more children in the US than any other disease. When a patient receives bone marrow their diseased blood-forming cells are replaced with healthy cells.
One foundation where they match patients to donors is DKMS Americas. DKMS Americas has two famous faces to help show how important registering to donate is.Those celebrities are Rihanna and Lamar Odem.
On the DKMS website it states that only three out of ten children are lucky enough to receive a transplant before they pass away. Half of this is due to the condition the child is in, the other half is because we are too selfish to donate our own bone marrow that replenishes within a few weeks.
As many as 3000 people die each year waiting for the bone marrow transplant they never received. Only 6 out of 8 patients receive a transplant that saves their lives.There are 16.5 million registered donors but that is not enough. Everyone is strongly encouraged to become a registered donor. All ethnicities are needed for bone marrow transplants, but minorities and biracial donors are especially needed.
Doctors make sure that the donor has a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type that is very close to the HLA of the patient. HLA are proteins in our body that our immune system uses to detect which cells belong in our body, and which ones do not.
Because HLA is inherited, the patient’s family is first to get tested for a bone marrow match, but all the patients on the waiting list did not match any of their family members. Only 30% of patients match someone in their family. The other 70% of patients need you.
Here is what you can do and should know about donating.
- Go to dkmsamericas.org and look at the terms and conditions.
- If you have back problems, or certain illnesses you are not able to donate.
- You must be between 18-55 years old to donate.
- If you agree to the terms and conditions-register to donate!
- About a week after you register, a packet with two long Q-tips to swab your cheeks comes in the mail.
- Mail your swabs back to DKMS Americas in the prepaid envelope that came in your packet.
- They will keep your swab until your 61st birthday. You also have to allow DKMS to search for you because you may move, get married, etc. from now until your 61st birthday.
Your packet contents will look like these.
*You may click on the images to enlarge them*
There is less than 1% chance you will be a match for someone, but if you are there are a few things you should know. Once you find out your tissue cells match a patient, you need to give a blood sample. If the blood sample also matches and you pass the physical (safe for you to donate), you have some major decision making to do.
You have no legal liability to donate and you can change your mind about being a donor any time (even if you have been told you are a match), but it is important to know that once you agree to donate (when they get a hold of you) you can’t really back out. This is because as soon as you agree to donate, the patient starts chemotherapy. At the end of their chemotherapy it is crucial they receive your bone marrow. If you fail to donate bone marrow after the patient has started chemotherapy, you have put a person in life-threatening conditions.
PAIN- OH COME ON
Everyone has the perception that donating bone marrow really hurts- this is wrong!!!!!
There are two ways doctors can retrieve your bone marrow.
*You may click the image to make the font larger*
If marrow cells are collected from the backside of the pelvic bone you may choose not to have anesthesia. The extraction causes a tiny bit of pain, nothing more than getting a tattoo. The thing that makes me personally think I can handle this is the fact that these patients (often times young children) have to go through the same process you do.
Positives about donating
There are three really good things about donating.
1. It is completely free for you. DKMS will pay for the hospital visit, meals, lodging, any traveling you have to do, and a limo ride. How cool!
2. Your bone marrow completely replenishes within a few weeks.
3. If the child is alive one year later, you and the patient will have the opportunity to meet each other. Again, DKMS will pay for you and the patient you saved to meet.
*You do not have to meet the person you gave life to*
4. The best thing about donating is that you become a hero, you truly saved a life, and I don’t think there could be a better feeling than that. Without your donation they would have passed away. Why wouldn’t you want to donate?
After DKMS Americas has processed your HLA tissue type and registered you into the national bone marrow registry, you will get a wallet card. *You may click on the images to enlarge them*
If you would like to learn more about DKMS Americas you can contact DKMS at (866) 340-3567, email email@example.com, click on the bone marrow image on my sidebar, go to www.dkmsamericas.org, or visit https://www.dkmsamericas.org/register.
It costs DKMS $65.00 to register a new donor. Please help DKMS register more donors by contributing any amount of money. This contribution is 100% tax deductible for you.
The neat, but sad thing about donating bone marrow is you become the only solution to saving a patient’s life- no medication, no other person, and no machine can save them- just you.
Please go online, register, donate, and save a life.