Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bone Marrow Registry

Bone marrow is the flexible tissue found in the interior of bones. In humans, bone marrow in large bones produces new blood cells.

Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called "blasts". Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases. In turn, it is part of the even broader group of diseases affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid system, which are all known as hematological neoplasms.

DKMS Americas is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization founded in 2004 and based in New York, NY that recruits volunteer bone marrow donors of all races and ethnicities to help leukemia patients in need of a bone marrow transplant. DKMS Americas was co-founded by Katharina Harf and her father Peter Harf. It is the US offshoot of DKMS (Germany), formed to help leukemia patients in need of bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants.

You may be wondering what this all has to do with me (and you).  Well, first of all I want to credit Wikipedia for the 3 definitions above.  Now I will explain what is going on.

I received my bone marrow donor registry card today in the mail.  I became inspired to register after a friend of mine donated his bone marrow and recounted the experience for me.  So I fired up google and was directed to the DKMS website.  After reading through all of the information and doing a bit of independent research on the subject I decided to see if I could even BE a donor (given my medical history).
The following info is straight from the DKMS website:

Potential donors MUST:
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 55
  • Be in good general health
  • Weigh more than 110 lbs but not exceed a BMI 40
  • Not be HIV positive or have been diagnosed with AIDS
  • Not have had heart surgery or have heart disease
  • Not have autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia
  • Not have sleep apnea, breathing problems or severe asthma (daily inhalers are acceptable)
  • Not have diabetes requiring insulin (or injectible medication)
  • Not have hepatitis B or C
  • Not have kidney or liver disease
  • Not have had a stroke (including a TIA)
  • Not have chronic or severe neck or back problems
  • Not have had uncontrolled epilepsy and not have had any seizures in the past year
  • Not have a history of blood clotting or a bleeding disorder
  • Not have a personal history of cancer (melanoma, breast, bladder and cervical cancer [stage 0, in situ] and cured localized skin cancer [basal cell or squamous cell] are acceptable)
Well there was my answer. Yup! I am OK to be a donor!  I sent for the swab kit and waited.

About a week later I received my swab kit and after reading the directions I pondered if I really wanted to go ahead and register.  I talked it over with D and made the decision to go ahead with it.
The directions were very easy (you just have to swab with inside of your cheeks with these big Q-tip things) and wait for them to dry.  Then place them in the envelope and mail them.  That was about 6 or so weeks ago.  I had actually forgotten about sending them in when I opened the mail today and saw my card.  I'm actually very excited. :)

I know the chances of me actually getting called to donate are pretty slim. But if there is even the remote chance that I could someday help save someone's life it's worth me taking the 5 minutes to swab my cheeks and get on the registry.  You never know.  I am already on the NY State organ donor registry and I give blood as often as I can so I guess the bone marrow donor registry was the next logical step.

I encourage everyone who can to check out the site and contemplate registering.  You can access the site through the link above or there is a counter on my home page you can click that will take you right through.

Just think about could possible help save a life one day.

I registered.....are you next?

Signing off 03:08


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