Over the past ten years I have wavered. I visited the site numerous times, browsed the information, bookmarked it (again) and left because I was afraid. I am not afraid anymore. Today I am proud to be sending in my DNA swab to become a bone marrow donor. I am no superhero, but starting today I may be able to save a life.
Are you on the bone marrow registry or have you considered it? After hearing the recent news of Robin Roberts (whom I’ve admired since her days at ESPN) needing a bone marrow transplant, it was time to sign up once and for all to become a potential bone marrow donor. Apparently I wasn’t alone. PRNewser has reported that 3600 people signed up within one day of her announcement at BetheMatch.com.
What is bone marrow?
Put simply, bone marrow produces the white blood cells that support the body’s immune system. It is flexible tissue found on the interior of our bones. Humans produce approximately 500 billion (yes, billion) blood cells per day and they use the bone marrow as a conduit to the body’s circulation system.
What is a bone marrow transplant?
A bone marrow transplant is a life-saving procedure in which a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are given directly into the patient’s bloodstream so they can begin to function and multiply normally. Bone marrow transplants are a treatment option for people with blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and similar life-threatening diseases.
Here’s the kicker. In each case a patient needs a donor who is a close match yet the vast majority of patients do not have a match within their family. Therefore they depend on the generosity of potential donors. Sadly, even with a registry of millions, many patients never find a genetic match which is precisely there is such an enormous need for donors.
What happens in a bone marrow transplant?
As for the donor, there are two ways to contribute bone marrow. One is a surgical procedure in which liquid marrow is withdrawn from the back of the donor’s pelvic bones. Anesthesia is used so that donors do not feel the needle or experience pain during marrow donation. However, most donors do feel some soreness or pain in their lower back for a few days afterwards.
More than likely a donor will have their cells removed through a needle in one arm, similar to a regular blood donation. Once removed, the blood is passed through a machine that separates out the cells needed for transplant. Then the remaining blood is often returned to the donor through the other arm.
While I may not be a superhero, I can overcome fear to save a life any day of the week. What’s your super power?
Have you signed up to be a bone marrow donor? If you are interested, go to http://BetheMatch.com to register and to learn more about the bone marrow registry.
Cheering you on, Robin Roberts. You go on with your bad self.