Today a post went viral on Reddit with description (there is a link to a YouTube Video. Just don’t read the YouTube comments, there’s a lot of people screeching about “racial mixing” in there):
My favourite teacher’s 24 year old daughter was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Because she is of mixed heritage (Thai and Italian), its quite hard to find a bone marrow donor. Please can you guys help? He was honestly such a nice teacher and I really want to help his family.
Who Are They Lacking?
- American Indian or Alaska Native
- Black or African-American
- Hispanic or Latino
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
- Multiple race
Where Can I Register?
If you’re British and between ages 16 and 30, through Anthony Nolan charity, which just requires a saliva sample, or if you’re between 18 and 50, you can join the British Bone Marrow Registry when you next donate blood.
- If you’re in Australia, you can join the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry when you next give blood to the Australian Red Cross.
- If you are from Germany you can also register with DKMS (http://www.dkms.de/de).
What Does Registration Entail?
- Filling out a basic medical history
- Ethnic ancestry
- Any conditions or types of surgeries you may have undertaken
- If you register with the Donor Program online, you will need to make an appointment with your doctor to give a blood sample, which will then be tested for HLA type. If you register as a marrow donor while donating blood, they will be able to take an extra blood sample for HLA typing. Just be sure to indicate that you wish to join the registry before you donate blood, so that the staff can prepare to take an extra sample.
- The cost of HLA testing is approximately $100, but if you get chosen as a donor this amount will be reimbursed, as it will be covered by the patient’s health insurance. If you register at a blood drive, there may be a sponsor who covers the tissue-typing costs on the day. Whatever you end up paying is tax-deductible.
- A doctor will match their patient with a potential donor by comparing the proteins in each of your blood cells to see if they are similar. The more similar they are, the better the chance of the patient’s body accepting the transplant.
- If your tissue type matches that of a patient in need of a bone marrow transplant, you will be contacted, so it’s important that you keep your contact information up-to-date and respond promptly, whether you intend on going through with the donation or not.
- For instance, you will need to be tested for any infectious or genetic diseases which could be passed onto the patient through the donated stem cells. You will also need to provide a detailed family history and undergo a physical examination to ensure that you are fit to go through with the donation procedure.
- You will also be required to attend an information session, where you will be filled in on the exact nature of the donation procedure and given detailed descriptions of the recovery process and the possible risks and side effects. Any questions or concerns you might have can be addressed during this information session. If you are still willing to go through with the donation, you will be asked to sign a consent form.
- Be aware that it may take up to 60 days for the doctor to review all of the health information necessary to make a decision regarding the donation. Once he/she has done this, they will be able to inform you which type of donation you will be required to make — bone marrow or PBSC.
What is the Donation Process?
- Before you can donate peripheral blood stem cells, you will need to undergo daily injections of a medication called Filgrastim, in the five days running up to the procedure. This medication draws stem cells from the bone marrow, so you will have more of them circulating in your blood.
- These injections will be administered at a donor center or medical clinic, where the medical staff will closely monitor your stem cell count, along with your body’s reaction to the medication. The last filgrastim injection will be given at the outpatient clinic or donor center on the day of your donation.
- Donating PBSC involves a procedure know as apheresis. This is when blood is taken from the body using a catheter inserted in one arm and passed through a machine which filters out the stem cells, along with platelets and white blood cells. The remaining blood (consisting mainly o plasma and red blood cells) then flows back into your body through a vein in the other arm.
- The procedure is completely painless and is similar to donating plasma. However, you may feel tingling around the mouth, a slight cramping of the hands, or experience lightheadedness or numbness, all of which should stop once the procedure is done.
- PBSC donation will usually require between 2 to 4 sessions, each between 2 to 6 hours each.
- If you are donating actual bone marrow instead of PBSC, the procedure will be entirely different. There will be no need for the filgrastim injections, as the stem cells can be drawn directly from the bone marrow. Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure, carried out in the operating room, which requires anesthesia and is therefore completely painless. The entire procedure will only take between 1 and 2 hours.
- In 96% of cases a general anesthetic will be used, which means you’ll be unconscious for the entire procedure. In a small number of cases a local anesthetic will be used, which simply numbs the area the bone marrow is taken from. In this situation, you will be awake throughout the procedure. Your doctor will decide which type of anesthetic is best for you.
- You will undergo the procedure lying on your stomach. The doctors will insert special, hollow needles into both sides of your pelvic bone, from which they will draw the liquid marrow. The incisions made by the needles will only be about a quarter of an inch in length and will not require stitches.
- After the procedure you will be taken to a recovery room where you will stay until you regain consciousness. Once you are able to eat, drink and walk (though perhaps with some difficulty) you will be able to leave again. In most situations a bone marrow donor will enter the hospital as an outpatient in the early morning and will be able to leave by late afternoon. However, sometimes donors are required to stay overnight for observation.
- 1 in 540 registrees will be called to donate.