Are You a Match?
November is National Marrow Awareness month and in an effort to promote a worthy cause, I wanted to share my experience with the National Marrow Donor Program. Donating bone marrow may seem like a very invasive and time consuming process, but from my experience and understanding from other donors, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Several years ago, Athletico hosted a National Bone Marrow registry drive for Be The Match where employees were given the opportunity to join the cause. The process was simple – learn about the marrow donation process, fill out some basic contact information, and then swab the inside of your cheek. That was it.
A year later I got a phone call telling me that I had been matched with a potential genetic match. I was elated and eager to move forward. The first step was going to get blood drawn to confirm the results of the match. When that was complete, I was then sent to visit with the surgeon that would harvest my marrow for a physical and explanation of the procedure. The procedure is straightforward. I would be under anesthesia while the surgeon used a needle to harvest marrow from my hips. This is one of two options available for donation. The other process involves removing blood forming cells from your bloodstream via a process that removes your blood, filters out the wanted cells, then returns it at the same session. While my option for donation may sound more unpleasant than blood donation, I was told from the doctor and other donors that after the first day of recovery, I wouldn’t feel much other than soreness in the area. A little soreness to save the life of another human seemed like an easy tradeoff to me, so I agreed to move forward with the process. Unfortunately, the donation was postponed and eventually cancelled due to complications with the recipient. I never found out more about the situation as Be The Match keeps both parties involved anonymous until a year after donation, if both parties agree to disclose their personal information. This is done for the protection of everyone involved. While it saddens me to say that this is where my journey ended, I hope that seeing how straightforward and relatively painless the process can be will encourage others to join the registry.
There are 3 ways you can help out with Be The Match. First, you can donate money to the cause. Second, you can join the registry by ordering a swab kit. Finally, if you are an expecting parent, you can donate cord blood. All 3 options require very little of you, but could literally mean the difference between life and death for a fellow human.
*Stop by Athletico’s Corporate Office Thursday, December 3 for our annual Blood Drive and Be The Match Registry!