Oct 082016
 

Be The Match®, National Marrow Donor Program®

We all know that organ donation save lives. When we think of organ donation, we usually associate it with the decision made by a family at the end of someone’s life. But living donor donations are becoming increasingly common. We frequently see on the news how a loved one – or a friend – of a patient in need donated a kidney, a lung lobe or even a part of a liver. We have also seen cases of celebrities (i.e. George Lopez’ then wife donated a kidney to him).

Many of us have asked ourselves whether we’d be able to make such a sacrifice to save someone’s life. When it comes to an organ transplant, we are talking about major surgery performed under a general anesthesia, a prolonged recovery and a lifetime of living with less than a complete set of organs. Such a donation takes courage. It is a sacrifice made by more and more people – even total strangers – today. To me these people are heroes because the prospect of living with fewer organs than my body was originally designed to have would worry me.

With that out of the way, let’s change the subject for a moment. The Earth has different types of natural resources. Our oil, coal or water resources are limited and can be exhausted. Other resources such as wind, solar energy or bamboo are renewable resources. We can use the latter and because renewable resources replenish themselves – so to speak – they won’t become exhausted in the foreseeable future. You guessed it: there is a parallel between the brief digression into the topic of natural resources and life-saving donations.

Living donor’s organ donation is not the only way to save lives, cure diseases and help people. Living donor’s tissue donation (blood or bone marrow) is the other. The main difference between these two types of donations is – yes, I am simplifying a bit! – that once you donate a kidney or a lung lobe (it isn’t true for a partial liver donation) you have exhausted a part of your natural resources. When you donate tissue, you’re donating your renewable resource. Tissue donation requires generosity but it won’t leave you worse for wear. The life-saving bodily liquids you can donate replenish themselves (your body regenerates them), under certain circumstances the renewal stimulated by the donation is actually beneficial to the donor’s health. There is more, you could donate blood or bone marrow – without the fear of depleting your own resources – several times and save more than one person’s life!

To summarize:

  • a living donor organ donation is a donation of a limited natural resource
  • a living donor tissue donation is a donation of a renewable natural resource

The first one involves a risk and is a major sacrifice. The second – not less generous – is an act of sharing what you have to spare. I’m not diminishing the value or importance of tissue donation: it is life-saving. I’m not saying that it is entirely pain or hassle-free, there is some. Just like a kidney or lung lobe’s donation, tissue donation is sharing and life-saving but without the potential risk of diminishing your quality of life now or later.

There are other ways of looking at living donor tissue donation:

  • If we have tissue that’s a renewable resource, isn’t not donating it selfish?…. Isn’t sharing a renewable resource a moral obligation of sorts?
  • Why do some people have to die because those who could save them (who are in effect, THE CURE!), simply don’t care? Is it right or FAIR? We don’t control the skin or eye color we’re born with and we don’t control what disease we are dealt. (By the way, the most common CHILDHOOD cancer is blood cancer.) Isn’t it like dying from hunger in a well-stocked grocery store?….

 

What’s involved in a bone marrow donor test and an actual bone marrow donation?

 

Here is the full information about the test:

  • The compatibility test consists of two steps: signing up for the Be The Match National Bone Marrow Registry and a few swabs inside the cheek. The test is really fast, simple and painless.
  • The cotton swabs get sent for analysis. You may or may not be a match for Adam Krief. You may be a match for someone else.

What if you are a match? (Either for Adam or someone else?) First and foremost, you need to know that the process and recovery are easier, faster and generally, less painful for the donor than for the recipient.

There are two methods of donating:

 

PLEASE NOTE: The donation that Adam Krief needs is the NON-SURGICAL, peripheral blood stem cell donation.

 

The PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell) method: “70% of the time donors are asked to give stem cells present in their blood”. (Quoted from MarrowDrives.org)

The PBS (peripheral blood stem cell) method
Additional information about donating peripheral blood stem cells

The bone marrow donation: “30% of the time, donors are asked to give stem cells extracted from their bone marrow. (The majority of bone marrow donations are for children as they experience a higher success rate with a bone marrow transplant as opposed to PBSC.)” (Quoted from MarrowDrives.org)

The bone marrow donation
Additional information about donating bone marrow

 

PLEASE NOTE: The donation that Adam Krief needs is the NON-SURGICAL, peripheral blood stem cell donation.

 

THESE CONDITIONS PREVENT YOU FROM JOINING:

• Hepatitis B or C
• HIV
• Organ, marrow or stem cell transplant recipient
• Stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack)

THESE CONDITIONS REQUIRE FURTHER EVALUATION:

• Autoimmune illness
• Brain injury or surgery
• Blood cancer or disorder
• Cancer
• Chronic neck, back, hip or spine pain
• Diabetes
• Heart diseases, a heart attack, or other heart-related issues
• Currently taking certain prescribed medications on a regular basis for pain, heart issues, cancer, and other serious diseases

 

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Bone Marrow Donor Drive for Adam Krief is organized in alliance with – and support of – Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)

Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating bone marrow transplants in the United States from volunteer unrelated donors to patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia and other potentially deadly diseases.

Be The Match® works to help every patient get the life-saving transplant they need. As a leader in advancing treatments for those facing life-threatening blood cancers, Be The Match® provides ground-breaking research, innovative technologies, patient support and education that save lives.

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor / E. Elrich

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Great piece!

★★★★★
5 5 1
This is the first time that I read an article on bone marrow donation that actually explains the procedure well. The advocacy section of the article is wise and eye-opening. Please continue writing. Your writing has the power to save lives.