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And now I am ready to tell my story how I become a bone marrow donor. Let’s start from the very beginning. The personal experience of donor-friend helped me to take the first step – I hope that my experience will also help someone. It is not difficult to become a bone marrow donor, and all expenses related to the procedure are paid or compensated by charitable organizations. I will tell you how my bone marrow helped a seriously ill person.
Why I decided to become a bone marrow donor?
I am an active blood donor, so I regularly visit the blood donor station. Sometime in the first half of 2020, posters with information about bone marrow donation appeared at the station. This is an information project for bone marrow donors and those who want to become them. I was interested in the materials presented. The main idea was that many people need a bone marrow transplantation.
More than 50,000 transplants are performed annually. Sometimes a relative of a person becomes a donor, but if there is no such person, then a suitable donor is selected from registers.
At the same time, HLA phenotypes often differ greatly from one person to another, which makes it difficult to find a donor even among close relatives. Only 40% of people who need bone marrow transplantation find their donors. For the rest, the disease becomes fatal.
It turns out that the more potential donors in the registers, the higher the chance of recovery for people with serious illnesses.
I discussed the leaflets with my colleagues, who are also blood donors. We agreed that it would be necessary to join the register of bone marrow donors. But at first, the matter did not go further than the discussion.
Then an article on the Internet made a big impression on me: one bone marrow donor described the whole donation process step by step – from joining the register to directly donating bone marrow. I realized that becoming a donor is not difficult and there is nothing supernatural about it.
In addition, all expenses for transfers, meals, accommodation, etc. are taken by the register. The donor is examined from head to toe and is given the right to abandon his decision at any stage. However, keep in mind that if the donor suddenly refuses donation, the recipient may die. This is due to the fact that his bone marrow is beginning to be “washed out” by high-dose chemotherapy. By the time the course of chemotherapy is over, the bone marrow should be ready for transplantation.
As a result, the desire to help someone forced me to move from thinking to action.
Is it safe to donate bone marrow cells?
According to the coordinator’s opinion, both methods of donating bone marrow cells – both bone puncture and taking them from peripheral blood – are equally safe for the donor, but the second takes several days longer. The body in both cases fully recovers within a maximum of a month.
The risks are mainly related to the fact that there may be complications due to anesthesia or allergic reactions to medications. The final choice of the donation method remains with the donor.
The first thing I did was share the information with my wife. She was not very happy with my donation in general and my intention to become a bone marrow donor in particular. She was afraid that it would negatively affect my health.
I joined the bone marrow donor register only after I assured her that the chance of becoming a real donor was minimal. It turned out to be a little trick, although at that moment I wasn’t lying at all.
After the invitation to be donor, my wife understood that it was useless to hinder me and that the recipient might not have another chance. She eventually supported me, but raised a number of questions about security, which I passed on to the coordinator.
Unpleasant sensations after the procedure passed in a week, and the recovery of the body took about a month. I was proud I saved the life of the person and he will live a bright life further on.