It was my freshman year at Saint Louis University. I came across a bone marrow donor drive hosted by Camp Kaseem on campus. I thought this could be a way to help others and give someone a second chance at life. I wanted to do that, if I could be so fortunate. I swabbed and went on my way.
I was called to donate bone marrow not once but TWICE. This was my experience.
Five years later, I forgot that I even signed up. But then one day, I received a phone call which informed me that I was identified as a potential match for a cancer patient in need of a transplant. At first, I honestly thought the call was a scam. I was told there is less than a 1% chance that your protein markers will match with someone else’s. Afterwards, DKMS reminded me of when and where I signed up and I did some research. It was then, I remembered that I indeed had signed up.
When it came to the donation, my friends and family were definitely a little apprehensive at first when I told them I was going to donate. They were nervous about the filgrastim injections and potential side effects and how that would affect my safety. But, I assured them, after working with my coordinators at DKMS, that it was safe. Afterall, someone’s life was at stake, some side effects from the figrastim shots would be minor in comparison.
The first time I donated, I finished earlier than expected. Although it was rough on my body for a short time, the fact that my cells will be able to serve as a new immune system for a cancer patient made my donation well worth it! If I had the chance to meet my recipient, I would tell them that I’m proud of them for fighting through and persisting, not letting this struggle beat them!
Less than a year later, I was contacted again to do PBSC for the same recipient. At first I felt a little apprehensive - thinking of doing the daily injections and the side effects that I had last time. Despite everything, the timing was right. I had the free time transitioning between jobs and I felt like it was a sign that I was able to do this again to help someone in their fight against cancer.
The second donation was harder because I had to go the full day and let me tell you, keeping your arms in the same position for over eight hours is no easy task. Not to mention when it’s time to pee! Overall, the nurses took good care of me and made sure I was as comfortable as possible.
After both donations, I experienced bone aching, headaches and just overall feeling of fatigue and sickness. By the second day, I felt significantly better and kept improving as the days went on.
I know there can be a lot of doubt when signing up to be a bone marrow donor. For anyone who is on the fence, I would tell them that you literally get the chance to save someone because of what your body can do. Your cells are capable of saving someone’s life, you don’t have to be something incredible... all you have to do is be you and you can help someone! Think of your family or friend and if they were in this situation, you would hope that someone out there would have the strength deep down to take the time to give them a chance at life.