Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bone Marrow Donations

Speaking of donations:

In 2005, there was a woman near me, living in South Orange, who had a fatal disease and was hoping for a bone marrow transplant to increase her chances of survival. I don't think she received it, and she died soon after the word went out. Before she died, her family organized a local drive for many of us to test for eligibility to donate. Many of us in the area went in and had our cheeks swabbed. It was very easy. We are registered with the Gift Of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.

Since then, I've been getting periodic emails about what's going on in the organization.

In the meantime, I mentioned this to my cousin who is only a few months younger than I am. She is diagnosed with leukemia, though she is symptom-free. She is on an experimental drug program to keep it in check. I don't understand this, so take it at face value. She is on disability, and the drugs reduce the amount of energy she has throughout the day. Since she might one day need a bone marrow transplant, I mentioned I could donate to her, if I'm eligible. She was quite touched. Of course, it would be a big deal for her, but I tend to look at it for what it means to me. It would hurt, but it would be a relatively small sacrifice for me, especially given how big the payoff could be.

Today, I got a call from Gift of Life, saying there's a patient who needs a transplant and I might be a candidate. She's 37 years old, and that's all I know. I'll be going in for tests, and if I'm a candidate, there will be one of two procedures. The 20% likely one will be pretty painless, and the 80% likely one will be fairly painful. Apparently, a lot of the pain comes from the drugs, not the procedure. But I think she said the pain should only last a week. I was picturing them carving open my femur (after cutting through my quadricep) to get the marrow, but I guess not, and that's a good thing, though I'd be game for that.

So this might happen. Stay tuned. I knew this might happen, and here it is, six years later, and now it really might happen. I'm rather excited.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Please donate blood

WHO: The Blood Center of New Jersey
WHEN: February 5, 2011, 9am to 2pm
WHERE: Morrow Memorial Church, 600 Ridgewood Road, Maplewood, NJ 07040

Please come and donate blood. If you've never done it before, please consider doing so.

If you have questions about what it's like, please ask here or poke around the website to see if there are answers to your questions. It will tell you if you're qualified to donate, if it's safe, and all that.

I give blood as often as I can. I find it to be painless, and it does not make me tired afterwards. In fact, I never feel any after-effects. Some people do feel a bit weak or tired for a while, but it's not guaranteed that you will. Only you can decide if it's worthwhile.

There are frequent blood shortages, and we could eliminate them if we all pitched in. I suspect people just don't give it thought. It costs nothing, only takes a little time, and it makes a difference. If you're short on cash, this is one way to help people without costing you any money. It's a real contribution to your community.

I used to be a bit fearful of the pain. There are two pricks: one to the fingertip and one into the arm vein. Most of the nurses who do the pricks are highly skilled and know how to do them without causing pain. I've learned over time not to fear them, which has made them feel like the most routine sensations. Once you know what to expect, it's no big deal at all. And pain really shouldn't be an obstacle to donating. The pain ranges from very minor to completely unnoticeable. The benefit, however, is much bigger than any of the pain. So please think about donating!

Children as young as 16 can now donate! This is new, and I think it's a wonderful opportunity for teenagers to serve their community.

As you can tell, I'm passionate about this. I'll be happy to tell you more if you'd like.

Thank you.

Tom Reingold
Maplewood, NJ