When Ernie was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, Bone Marrow Transplant was immediately mentioned as Phase Two of his treatment. We had no idea what that meant. It really wasn't discussed in great detail until he reached the point, following chemotherapy, that it appeared to be a reality for him, i.e. his body could handle it and his MM was in remission following Phase One.
EZ's stem cells being collected using a process called aphresis...not painful!
As we became educated about the process of Bone Marrow (or Stem Cell) Transplant, we were amazed at how these precious cells are collected and transplanted into the patient...basically like a blood transfusion! Fortunately Ernie's own cells were used for his transplant (autologous transplant), so he did not have to deal with the rejection factor (graft vs. host disease) that so many others face. However, we have met people on our journey who received cells from donors (allogeneic transplant), and that made me wonder what I had to do to become a donor on the national registry. This post is to share with you what I found out.
Here are some important facts that I obtained from the American Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
1. Over 50 diseases can be treated by marrow transplant, including leukemia, myeloma, lymphoma, immune deficiency, sickle cell anemia and aplastic anemia.
2. The odds are 1 in 20,000 of identifying an unrelated compatible marrow donor, and much higher than this for patients of minority heritage.
3. You must be between 18 and 60 years old and have no history of hepatitis, heart disease, cancer or AIDS.
4. Your cell sample is obtained by using a cheek/mouth swab from a kit which is provided for you.
5. A patient's best opportunity to find a perfectly matched donor is from an identical twin or a sibling.
So all you "young", healthy readers out there, would you consider becoming a donor by swabbing your cheek and getting on the registry? Fill out the online form (by clicking the button below) and send away for your kit today. It is painless, and if one day you are notified that you might be a potential life-saving match for someone, possibly your own sibling, you can make the decision as to whether or not you want to proceed with the collection process at that time. Hopefully you would gladly proceed. Those syringes of healthy stem cells are liquid gold, life saving blood, and so needed by patients who would not live without them!
EZ's healthy stem cells!