Tissue donation, anyone?

Six years ago a friend of mine died of leukemia. She saved up to 150 lives, because that is how many of the people who registered as bone marrow donor in drives set up by her friends were matched to people who needed transplants.

Today a friend Shared a Facebook request to send birthday cards to a child with leukemia waiting for a bone marrow transplant.

I’d like to ask everyone to considering registering for tissue (bone marrow) donation and donating platelets if possible.

You probably won’t match this seven year old. But if you do, you’ll get to save a little kid’s life. If you don’t, you might get to save someone else’s life.

Can you describe the process of extracting the bone marrow from the donor? I’ve heard it’s painful. (Not that should stop anyone, of course.)

I’m already signed on for the bone marrow registry, but as I have an uninteresting ethnicity, it’s unlikely I’ll be of much use to anyone.
Dewey Finn**, here’s a PDF from deletebloodcancer.org that details the different types of donation procedures.

(Here’s a non-PDF explanation from bethematch.org, as well)

Often, the collection can be done via peripheral blood, which is less invasive. Stimulating drugs are still used to boost stem cell production prior to collection, though, and that can cause bone aches.

I’m glad you mentioned donating platelets, too. So many people aren’t aware that they are needed until someone close to them is in need, usually due to cancer. It’s a scary thing when there aren’t enough on the shelf!

I’ve been on the bone marrow registry for a number of years. Nobody has ever matched me apparently. The registry does say that I have an unusual HLA type though. It’s nice to know that if someone with my unusual HLA type needs help that I might be one of the few or only people who can help them out.

…Though it also concerns me that if I ever need help I might have trouble finding a close match.

A wholly admirable thread. Now allow me to lighten it up a little, for the sake of that seven-year old:

There was a prison inmate, a lifer, whose hobby was donating tissues: blood, bone marrow, skin for burn victims, one kidney, even a section of his small intestines. But one day the warden put a stop to it and the issue went viral. When interviewed, the warden explained, “We noticed he (the inmate) was slowly getting out of prison.”

I am not a medical professional, but the simplest description of direct extraction I’ve heard is, “They stick a huge honking’ needle into your hip and suck it out.” Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Make you hope they’ll do it under a local so you can watch.

As for the pain? The best response I’ve ever heard was, "I’ve hurt myself worse walking into a desk."

But, you get to save someone’s life if you’re lucky. How often to you get a chance to do that, with or without a stiff hip for a week?

I’m signed up through Be The Match as well. Again, I’m a fairly boring racial/ethnic background in terms of who usually donates, but I’m in the database.

I signed up through Gift Of Life a while ago. No call yet, but I’d be more than happy to donate to someone.

According to the GoL page, donations take a variety of forms. For instance, some donations are for blood stem cells…some are for marrow. You can do some reading on their Donor Stories page.

I signed up many years ago, after a couple in the church I belonged to asked fellow members to donate. Their adult daughter had died of adult onset leukemia.

I have had bone marrow extracted due to a test for cancer. The actual procedure didn’t hurt much at all. After a day or so and for the next week, my hip felt like I had taken a really good whack to it. The comment about walking into a desk fits well there. And that was it.

Not sure if a bone marrow extraction for tissue donation would hurt more or require more than one insertion, that could add to the overall discomfort, but probably wouldn’t mean it hurts more.

I hope everything turns out well for you, Ford, and thanks for confirming that it’s not brutally painful.