In November of 2009, Rachel joined the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry through a drive initiated by a co-worker whose cousin died from a blood cancer. Joining the registry was easy and simply required some paperwork and a few cotton swab samples collected by swiping the inside of her cheek. No big deal!
Two years later, Rachel was notified that she was a potential match for a patient. Rachel completed a comprehensive medical survey and talked to a medical case manager about her medical history. In mid-November of 2011, Rachel found out that she was the best match for the patient and the donation was scheduled for January 26, 2012. She learned that the recipient was a 62-year old man with lymphoblastic leukemia.
Five days before her donation date, Rachel began receiving injections of Filgastrim, a drug that causes your own bone marrow to super produce and release into your blood stream. Since her recipient was very ill, they would need to get as much marrow from her as possible. This drug caused some mild aches and pains, but nothing a little Aleve couldn’t handle.
On her first donation day, Rachel was hooked up with a needle in each arm and a marrow collecting machine in the middle. She found it to be somewhat similar to donating blood, except that you are hooked up for several hours at a time. She was not able to move her arms or walk around for several hours, which did get uncomfortable. Because she could not move, she had to use a bed pan, which was less than glamorous, but having given birth to two children, it didn’t really bother her. :) It was the same set up for the second day of donation, but for less time. At the end of process she was able to see her marrow, which she describes as “a bag full of goopy pinkish white stuff.”
All in all Rachel found it to be an easy process. “The National Bone Marrow Donor Registry is amazing. I can't say enough good things about "Be the Match"...they were so wonderful, answered all of my questions and covered every expense (mileage, parking, meals, etc...) associated with the donation process. They made the whole process super easy and comfortable.”
Six weeks after her donation she learned that the transfer went well and the recipient was able to go home to recover after a few weeks in the hospital. Rachel will receive another update at the 6-month anniversary of her donation and is hoping for more good news!
It is important to note that Rachel is no stranger to cancer. She was diagnosed with early stage cervical cancer in 2006, which was treated with surgery. Rachel’s bone marrow donation is an inspirational example of “paying it forward”!
To learn more about becoming a donor, please join the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry!