My Dad has an inoperable brain tumor. There is nothing that the doctors can really do for him aside from treating him with chemo and avastin, hoping to extend his life for as long as possible. There is nothing that I can do to help him -- because if there was, trust me, I would do it. I wish that it could be as easy as giving him an arm or leg or blood or marrow, but it's not. I would give anything, anything, to save him. Life is such a precious thing, and it is so very fragile. The people that are in our lives are what give life such meaning, which is why I decided to become a bone marrow donor.
This decision was inspired by the nightly news. One womans plea to pay someone to donate marrow to save her daughters life. There were no matches in the registry (which has about 8 million people) and she was urging people to join the registry. Of course, paying someone for bone marrow is illegal, which is why this was on the news. I decided to look into it and found out that donating bone marrow isn't as horrific as I thought it was: my understanding had always been that it was a horribly painful procedure which involved a giant-sized needle being inserted into my spine. Come to find out that the most common form of donating today is...
PBSC Donation: Peripheral blood stem cell donation.
For 5 days before donation, the donor receives daily injections of a drug that increases blood-forming cells in the bloodstream. On the fifth day, the donor's blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to the donor through the other arm. Donor side affects may be headache or muscle aches for several days, but the side effects typically disappear shortly after donation - getting back to your normal routine within one to two days.
There is also the other procedure, the Marrow Donation, which is nothing like I had pictured it:
Marrow donation is a surgical procedure. While the donor is under anesthesia, the doctor uses needles to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of the pelvic bone. After donation, marrow donors can expect to feel some soreness in the lower back for a few days. Marrow donors are typically back to their usual routine in 2 to 7 days.
After doing the survey and registry online, I received my kit in the mail:
It took less than 2 minutes to swab the insides of my cheek, seal up the package and send it off.
Joining is free, but the cost to process one kit is about $100, so I made a $100 donation along with becoming a part of the registry.
If you are a match for someone, the donation process could take up to 30 to 40 hours, including travel time to attend your appointments. This time is spread over a 4-6 week period. Think about it: 30 hours of your time, to give someone a lifetime. That's some powerful shit.
My Dad means everything to me, and each day with him is a miracle and a blessing. Who gives your life meaning and makes it worth living? Wouldn't you want someone to do the same for that person if they were in need? Take the time to make a change for someone, to give them a chance.