One of our colleagues at TiER1 recently completed a bone marrow transplant. Of course our prayers have been with him throughout the process and we continue to pray that the transplant will be successful.
We are also having a Bone Marrow Registry Drive at TiER1 to continue to support our colleague and hopefully help someone else in the process. On May 5, TiER1 employees in both Covington and Pittsburgh are uniting to join the Bone Marrow Registry and we want to challenge you to do the same.
You can apply for the Bone Marrow Donor Registry at http://www.marrow.org. About 2 weeks after you register you will receive a kit in the mail that will ask you to take 4 swabs from the inside of your mouth and return them to the registry.
I’m sure you have a lot of questions about the donation process, you can learn more at http://www.marrow.org or see some of the info below.
What is a marrow transplant?
Bone marrow transplant is a life-saving treatment for people with leukemia, lymphoma and many other diseases. First, patients undergo chemotherapy and sometimes radiation to destroy their diseased marrow. Then a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are given directly into the patient’s bloodstream, where they can begin to function and multiply.
For a patient’s body to accept these healthy cells, the patient needs a donor who is a close match. Seventy percent of patients do not have a donor in their family and depend on the Be The Match Registry to find an unrelated bone marrow donor or umbilical cord blood.
Does this involve surgery?
The majority of donations do not involve surgery. Today, the patient’s doctor most often requests a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which is non-surgical. The second way of donating is marrow donation, which is a surgical procedure. In each case, donors typically go home the same day they donate.
What are the steps?
Preparation: This involves getting registered in the program, an information session if you are a match, physical exam
Donating: There are 2 methods of donation: peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) and bone marrow.
PBSC is a nonsurgical procedure that takes place at a blood center or outpatient hospital unit. For 5 days leading up to donation, you will be given injections of a drug called filgrastim to increase the number of blood-forming cells in your bloodstream. Your blood is then removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through the other arm. Your blood-forming cells are back to their normal levels within 4 to 6 weeks.
Bone Marrow donation is a surgical outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital. You will receive anesthesia and feel no pain during the donation. Doctors use a needle to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of your pelvic bone. The marrow replaces itself completely within 4 to 6 weeks
Recovery and Follow-up
PBSC donors can expect to experience a headache, or bone or muscle aches for several days before collection, a side effect of the filgrastim injections. These effects disappear shortly after collection. Most PBSC donors report that they feel completely recovered within 2 weeks of donation.
Marrow donors can expect to feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days or longer following the donation. Most marrow donors report that they feel completely recovered within 3 weeks of donation.
What are the side-effects?
There can be uncomfortable but short-lived side effects of donating PBSC. Due to taking a drug called filgrastim for five days leading up to donation, PBSC donors may have headaches, joint or muscle aches, or fatigue. PBSC donors are typically back to their normal routine in one to two days.
Those donating marrow receive general or regional anesthesia, so they feel no pain during donation. Marrow donors can expect to feel some soreness in their lower back for one to two weeks afterward. Most marrow donors are back to their normal activities in two to seven days.
Though no medical procedure is without risk, there are rarely any long-term side effects. Be The Match® carefully prescreens all donors to ensure they are healthy and the procedure is safe for them. We also provide support and information every step of the way.
Because only five percent or less of a donor’s marrow is needed to save the patient’s life, the donor’s immune system stays strong and the cells replace themselves within four to six weeks.
What is the cost?
Donors never pay to donate. The NMDP reimburses travel costs and may reimburse other costs on a case-by-case basis.
Where do I join the program?
The program site located nearest to Covington is Greenwood, Indiana (62 miles) but you can also join online at http://www.marrow.org. You can use the site locator at http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/Join_in_Person/index.html to find other sites.
When you join the registry, you will use our registration kit to give a swab of cheek cells. We will tissue type the sample you provide and use the results to match you to patients.
If you join in person at a donor registry drive, the Be The Match representatives can explain how to use the swab kit. If you join online, you will receive your kit in the mail. Instructions are included in your kit.
You can learn more about the process of marrow donation at http://rarediseases.about.com/od/rarediseasesb/a/bmt05.htm. The NMDP also has an FAQ list at http://www.marrow.org/DONOR/When_You_re_Asked_to_Donate_fo/Donation_FAQs/index.html and another one at http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/FAQs_about_Joining_the_Registry/index.html.
Here are some YouTube videos about Bone Marrow Transplants