Four years ago I went to an event for BeTheMatch.org to support my friend DrPowercat (Tom). There they did a DNA swab to add me to their database of potential bone marrow donors. I didn’t think much of it until the spring of 2018 when I got a letter saying I could be the sole match for a 6 year old boy with a rare disorder needing a bone marrow transplant.
I spent nearly an hour on the phone with them and was approved for the next step, blood work. I don’t do well with needles but how can I say no to helping a child in need? Just the same I was pretty nervous. They had another barrage of questions at the clinic and sent my blood off for lab work so they could confirm if I was indeed the match they needed. They said it could take up to two months before I would know for sure but if approved a lot more needles would be in order. Of course they didn't word it that way but it's certainly was what I heard. (I don't do well with needles. )
The actual extraction would require 5 days of preliminary injections to get my body ready to produce enough extra cells for them to harvest. They only work with KU Med locally but if necessary they would have to fly me to another participating medical facility.
I remember being excited that I might be able to help someone out (possibly the only match in the US) but also scared to death and not looking forward to more time in hospitals. After a lengthy wait I eventually got word back that although close I was not similar enough of a match for the doctors to proceed. I feel guilty for the sense of relief I felt and although I didn't say no there was a selfish part of me that was happy for the results. I asked them if it were possible to keep me informed about the little boy while respecting HIPAA rules. They said they could try but I think it was just to make me feel better as I never heard back. I stop and think about him sometimes and pray they found the match they needed.
If you are interested in being a part of this live saving network check them out here: https://bethematch.org/