I feel compelled to write this post after seeing an acquaintance of mine today in the sandwich shop across the street at lunch today. I know this guy through playing softball with Belinda many, many moons ago - on the fields behind the Varsity Club on campus, of all places! At any rate, his 5 month old son is ill with a rare disorder and needs a bone marrow transplant. They have been fortunate to find a donor, and the transplant is set to take place next week.
Many patients - men, women and CHILDREN of all age and ethnic backgrounds - are not nearly as fortunate as this family in being able to locate a donor. I have known some people who have been ill that were unable to find matches where a bone marrow transplant would have opened a whole new road of treatment for them. After one such case, I decided that I was going to become a registered bone marrow donor, and I did. When I did it, all I did was give a blood sample at a local Red Cross location equipped for this scenario. I even paid the $45 for the tissue typing. Donor compatibility is determined based on specific tissue matches - the donor cannot be entered into the registry without the tissue typing being completed. I felt that $45 was a small price to pay for the opportunity to give someone their health back.
I urge all of you reading this to go to www.marrow.org. It is a wonderful website that explains the whole process from start to finish. I have been on the registry for more than 10 yrs now, and I have never been called to donate, but would do it in a heartbeat if called. You don't necessarily have to pay for the tissue typing - the Red Cross takes donations for that, and samples are then processed as funds become available. I put myself in some poor family's situation and hope that if I was ever in the situation where I or someone I love needed a donor, that someone out there was willing to help.
Organ transplantation is also very near and dear to my heart. Many of you have heard me talk about "the blind lady". Sharon lost her sight in her early 20's from complications of diabetes. She has also undergone 2 kidney and a pancreas transplant. Her doctors are currently evaluating whether or not she will be placed back on the waiting list for another pancreas. Her pancreas was transplanted in 1989 and has slowed down - she needs a functioning pancreas to help stop the other impacts of her diabetes, mainly from destroying her kidney function. Diabetes is a very, very nasty disease - that stupid little pancreas can screw a lot of things up. The obesity epidemic in our country has caused diabetes to sky rocket in our country and in most cases, it can be prevented. I have seen first hand the havoc it wreaks, and it is a real motivator to stay healthy.
Please, if you are compelled to do so, pay it forward and register to be an organ and marrow donor.