Here’s what my boss said when I told her I might be donating my bone marrow:
“Well, it’s not like you haven’t had everything else sucked out of you this year.”
2006 really has been brutal…between the layoffs, the somewhat toxic work environment, the dog, and a few other things that were too personal to blog about, I’ve at times felt that the universe was trying to find my breaking point. The possibility of being a bone marrow donor is pretty much the best thing going on in my life right now.
It hit a bit of a bump in the road last week when my hematologist, who has been trying unsuccessfully to find something wrong with me for about a year now, said I wasn’t a suitable candidate. My regular doctor, during an annual check-up, discovered that my red blood cells are “funny.” Unlike most things in life, red blood cells are born big, and they get smaller as they mature. Mine are pretty much all big, which means something’s killing them off before they mature. She referred me to the hematologist, and he has run all kinds of tests for increasingly obscure diseases, trying to solve this medical mystery in my blood. So far, nothing.
But anyway, he said no. So I phoned him yesterday and asked why not. It turned out there was a communication breakdown between me, his receptionist and him, and he didn’t realize there was somebody out there actually waiting for MY marrow; he thought it was all hypothetical. So anyway, he agreed to take another look, conditional on me getting some more blood tests done, which I did today.
But you know what I found out today? If you were to learn tomorrow that you needed a bone marrow transplant, and nobody in your family was a suitable match, the odds are seriously against you. Only 1 in every 20,000 unrelated people will be a match for you.
In Canada, you can register with the Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry with an online questionnaire followed by a simple blood test. You may never be called upon to donate – and if you are, it’s of course optional – but the more people there are in the pool of potential donors, the more hope there is for people who need marrow.