Friday, June 18, 2010

Be the Match!

We have some family friends going through an impossibly sad time right now with the dad of the family being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He had cancer before and fought it all off so he's a tough cookie and we're praying for him and his family that he can do the same this time. My mom has always had this joke about wanting an island, where she would get to decide who would get to live on it, so she could be surrounded by only good and decent and awesome people. The Elders would be invited to that island in a second.

When these things happen, I know most of us struggle with what we can do to help. Being 500 miles away, we can't do a lot for them in particular, but I've been thinking about joining a bone marrow donation program for awhile and decided to sign up today. I know my marrow or stem cells won't get to help Jim, but his fight inspired me to try to help someone who is also fighting.

There are two forms of donation, which the doctor of the patient that you match decides between. There is peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation which is a nonsurgical procedure that takes place at a blood center or outpatient hospital unit. For 5 days leading up to donation, you are given injections of a drug called filgrastim to increase the number of blood-forming cells in your bloodstream. Your blood is then 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 you through the other arm. Your blood-forming cells are back to their normal levels within 4 to 6 weeks. Ah, science...

The harder donation is bone marrow donation which is a surgical outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital. You receive anesthesia and feel no pain during the donation. Doctors use a needle to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of your pelvic bone. The marrow replaces itself completely within 4 to 6 weeks. Ouchies.

It's really easy to sign up. You go to the Be The Match marrow registry website, click join now, enter a bunch of information and a donation amount if you so choose (it costs them $100 to type you and process the DNA etc so any little bit helps them), and they send out 4 q-tip swabs to rub in your cheeks to send back to them to match you and put you in the database.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

It's a super personal decision so I'm not trying to convince anyone reading this to do it (except Jeff. I'll wear him down.), I just think there's a lot of misunderstanding about what's involved with these donations. They're relatively easy, painless, and safe and they could ultimately help save a life. I think it's worth it.


Nikki Menda said...

Oh my goodness!! I love it. Thank you so, so much. On our island, the Trondsens and the McMillans would SO be there! This is an amazing gesture. I'm going to tell Christy and about it - it sounds like the perfect thing to do. I read this to my mom and dad - my mom cried and my dad is SO touched. Thank you for your kind words and continual support! Love you guys lots!!! You are one of the most amazing people I've ever met. I feel so honored to have you as a friend.

Liv said...

Believe me, the feeling is mutual. :)

Christy Holmes said...

Liv! I'm kinda speechless! But Nikki did a good job summing up how I feel. You are an absolute sweetheart and so thoughtful! We miss you and Jeff. Take care!

Brooke said...

Blood and platelet donations, along with registering your marrow, are fantastic forms of community service, and are like a high five for humanity. Best wishes to your friend's dad through his tough time.