Some time ago a very dear friend called and asked me if I would write a post on bone marrow donors. My friend has Lymphoma and has had for many years. She's undergone all kinds of treatments, some of which continue today. She has had a stem cell transplant but hasn't yet had to have a bone marrow transplant from someone else, although that day could come.
I remember from years past that to donate bone marrow involved a painful and time-consuming surgery but that's no longer true. Bone marrow can be harvested from the donor's blood through a process called peripheral blood stem-cell donation - a machine separates and collects the stem cells before returning the blood to the donor. It's an outpatient procedure that takes four to six hours on one or two consecutive days. Four days before the procedure the donor receives daily injections of a synthetic protein called filgrastim. There is a second method that involves using a syringe to collect marrow cells from the backside of the pelvic bone during an outpatient surgical procedure; donors receive general anesthesia in this one to two hour process.
Another thing I learned about stem-cell transplants is that being tested to see if you could be a donor for someone is as easy as pie! You simply swab inside your cheek with four q-tips - well you don't do it yourself of course, but that's how it's done. :) You know that doesn't hurt...we see it on CSI all the time!
If you would consider being a donor for someone in need of this life saving procedure there are a couple of ways to do it. Often there will be a bone-marrow drive for a particular person and in that case you simple attend the drive. There is also a bone-marrow testing Center, DKMS http://www.deletebloodcancer.org/, which will send out testing kits for free, according to the article I read.
Recently there was a series of articles in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette about a young woman with leukemia who needed a donor. The articles were well written and filled with information. In particular an article on December 17, 2012 was very informative. If you don't know much about bone-marrow transplants - read a few articles on the internet about it. There are lots of folks out there, adults and children, who could be helped if we all registered!