Selfless Service: Donate bone marrow, save a life
January 26, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Giving of oneself to another is a common theme found within persons of a military background.
Selfless service is a core Army value and it comes second nature to many of us. When I found out I was a match to donate bone marrow to someone with an illness I didn't hesitate to agree to undergo the procedure. I felt it was my obligation and anyone else would do the same for me.
I found out about the C. W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program while I was attending a leadership development course as a Cadet while in ROTC.
Registering as a donor was simple: only with a swab of the inside of the mouth. I found out one year later that I was a match for a woman in her 40's with two children. She was suffering from Leukemia and required a marrow transplant.
You don't receive the details about your patient until after the transplant. I found out my patient had improved and things were looking up for her. However, two years after the first transplant I was contacted again to donate to the same patient. Her disease went into relapse. This time I felt a stronger determination to help.
There are two types of procedures a donor may go through: either extraction of bone marrow from the pelvic bone to collect blood-forming cells for transplant, or extraction of Peripheral Blood Stem Cells from the blood stream to collect blood-forming cells for transplant.
The program chose to collect PBSC's from me and the procedure chosen is dependent on the needs of the patient. Both procedures are conducted in Washington D.C.
The program flies the donor to D.C., puts the donor in a nice hotel and provides $50 a day for food. These niceties combat any discomfort one may feel while undergoing the procedure. Most donors only feel mild discomfort.
A few days after the procedure, I found myself lying in bed thinking that only a couple days ago I was half way across the country giving a part of myself in hopes to save someone else's life. You find yourself hoping for the best for someone you don't even know.