Hear the stories of DKMS bone marrow and blood stem cell donors who went above and beyond to give patients a second chance at life.
Nearly 8 years later, I had forgotten I registered to be a potential lifesaver with a few friends on the campus of University of Texas Austin. So when I got the call, I thought it was spam. But they emailed me and called again. I admit I was a little hesitant at first; I mean why now? But I did my research, spoke with my family & friends and called DKMS to set up my appointment. I donated my stem cells in late March. The world is a crazy place right now, but I gave someone a second chance at life.
I was in disbelief when I first got the email. I sent it to my wife and after some digging, we knew it was the real deal! It may seem daunting at first, but when you process that you are a match to someone and could play a role in helping save their life- it really puts everything into perspective. Having a young son at home, my wife and I knew it was something I needed to do and I had all the support I needed.
When I got the email close to 4 years after registering, I went completely numb for a moment out shock. I immediately called my parents to tell them. The cause is so close to home being that my sister-in-law had childhood leukemia, I expected them to understand. My family was super supportive about the donation and couldn’t believe how blessed I am to be able to share this experience with someone. Their continuous love and support every day made me feel confident that I was doing the right thing. Registering to be a donor is such a small thing to do for the big impact it has. Giving the gift of life is something I could never regret.
"If you're matched with someone, it is like winning the lottery. To be someone's match is a rare opportunity. You have a gift only you can give that person and it is the gift of life."
I was helping do a drive as part of Sharing America's Marrow on the campus of my PN school in 2015. That’s where I registered to be a donor. When I first got the call in 2018, I was excited and a little nervous. I think my family and friends also felt the same. After a couple of months of donating, my recipient and I started to anonymously write to each other. I may not have known who he was but I knew if I was ever asked to donate again, I'd do so in a heartbeat. April 2020, I got the call again. The question wasn't if I'm willing to donate-- It's was CAN I donate? As a registered nurse I'm in the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. My hospital was preparing for a second wave. Thankfully, I was able to get clearance from my supervisor and donated my cells within a few days.
"I just kept them [the patient] in my prayers and I always hoped they didn’t have any anxiety over the possibility of their donor backing out because that was never an option."
When I signed up with the DOD in 2012 to be a bone marrow donor, I did so as an extension of my duties. When I retired from the Marine Corps, I registered with DKMS to continue my duty of helping people. Early Janurary 2020, I got the call to serve as a donor. I signed up to help in this fight against cancer, I wasn't going to back down now. By the time I was done with all the neccessary screenings, COVID-19 had kicked into gear. I trusted my DKMS team and went through with the donation. Post-procedure, while still groggy, I offered to buy the surgical team pizza. At least that’s what they told me. So I guess I did OK.
"I am fortunate to have the gift of good health and it is a gift I should share whenever and however I can."
I have a happy active family, but we have suffered several losses in our family in the last two years: my mom and dad passed within 9 months of one another and my oldest brother died suddenly in between the time we lost my parents. When I was asked to donate, it heightened the worry among my family and friends. But over time they understood I would be fine; donating wouldn't threaten my health but it would give someone a second chance to at life. In the face of so much loss, donating bone marrow is just as life affirming for my family as it is for my recipient's family.