The day has arrived and Anything L.A. Magazine held the much anticipated bone marrow drive for Adam Krief. A representative of Be The Match® (National Marrow Donor Program®), was there with testing kits as well as plenty of informational, educational and promotional materials. There were volunteers eager to be tested to hopefully be the match for Adam Krief. KTLA’s (Channel 5) reporter came by as well.
Here is what we learned:
- what’s really involved in stem cell transplants
- why one has to join the National Marrow Donor Program to get tested to be a match for a particular patient
- why so many people volunteer to get tested and become donors
Having spoken with Hope H., the Be The Match® representative who joined us for our drive, we now know that either form of bone marrow donation is quite easy on the donor. The PBSC donation (which consists of a specialized blood donation during which stem cells for the transplant are filtered out from the donor’s blood) is simple, fast and requires no recovery. The more complex marrow donation (performed under general anesthesia involves bone marrow extraction using a thin needle, NOT a drill!) is usually followed by a few days of minor discomfort easily relieved with over-the-counter pain reliever. Considering the fact that the payoff is saving a human life, either one is a bargain.
Prior to our marrow drive we were wondering why a person has to join the National Marrow Donor Registry – and make themselves available to donate to any patient in need – to be tested as a possible match for a specific patient. Here is what we learned, you don’t have to join the registry, if you prefer to pay for the test to a private lab (the cost is about $300) you can do so without joining the Marrow Donor Registry. However the odds of being a match for a specific patient are extremely low. Members of the registry who are between 18 and 44 years of age get tested free of charge, provided they are committed to saving any patient in need.
We were wondering who and why would volunteer to join the National Marrow Donor Registry and make themselves available to any patient who needs bone marrow transplant. (It was easy for us to relate to ONE person’s plight. Knowing a face and a story makes volunteering easy. “Any patient” has no face and no story to relate to.) We learned that the most motivated volunteers / donors are people personally touched by a loved one’s fight with cancer. They get tested to save a loved one only to find out that they are not a match. Then, they are eager to become donors for anyone else in the hope that others will be as willing to donate to and save their loved one. (We were surprised to learn that Hope H., our Be The Match representative, not only is a registered marrow donor herself, but has personal reasons to be passionate about – and dedicated to – the cause of treating cancer patients with stem cell therapy.)
The SFV Bone Marrow Donor Drive For Adam Krief was an eye-opening experience for the staff of Anything L.A. Magazine. Even though we are passionate about helping Adam Krief for quite a while now and expanded considerable effort into organizing the drive to his benefit, we were taken aback by our own ignorance of stem cell transplants. The experience of holding the marrow drive changed our view of the National Marrow Donor Registry and its importance. Perhaps emboldened by our encounter with the need for marrow transplants and their value as a treatment for many types of cancer, we – the staff of Anything L.A. Magazine – now believe that making marrow compatibility testing mandatory for all United States citizens might be a good idea. None of us knows whether we – or someone we love – will develop cancer that can be cured with a stem cell transplant, at some point in life. Now, more familiar with the specifics, we believe that it should be possible to “shop” and FIND a matching donor as quickly as purchase a prescription. If we were all in the National Marrow Donor Registry NO ONE would have to die while searching and waiting for a matching donor. Having such a law on the books wouldn’t be exploitative because living tissue regenerates itself (it’s a renewable resource!) but its availability and ease of access could save time and lives of cancer patients.
Anything L.A. Magazine is just that: a magazine. We don’t have legislative power. But we are free to make suggestions to our readers AND legislators. Consider getting tested if you are between 18 and 44: a mass participation in the National Marrow Donor Registry could save your own life or the life of someone you love down the line.
Anything L.A. Magazine thanks all who contributed to the success of our SFV Bone Marrow Drive For Adam Krief. Whether you volunteered and got tested or helped to spread the word: THANK YOU! (Our Special Thanks go to @IronmanMann, @meghubb and @ArtemisPics on Twitter. Another very Special Thanks to KTLA and the KTLA’s reporter who came by during our drive. The reporter was not only well-informed and kind but understood the importance of the cause.) The saying has it “It takes a village to raise a child.” It takes several villages to save a life of a cancer patient. Thousands participated in the effort already. We’ve made a modest contribution, too. Anything L.A. Magazine is sincerely grateful for your support for Adam Krief and our marrow drive!
Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor / E. Elrich
Photo credit: Wolf Kesh