Support from family and friends
Knowing little about the donation process, Darrell turned to his family and friends for support. They were thrilled to hear he was a potential match, but at the same time, were shocked that he and other marrow donors could be so giving to complete strangers.
After speaking with representatives from Be The Match and learning more about the two types of donation, bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), Darrell’s supporters encouraged him to move forward with additional testing. Test results came back stating that Darrell was, indeed, a perfect match for his recipient, and he soon found out he would be donating to an elderly male with lymphoma.
The first donation – PBSC
Darrell’s first donation was in 2007, when he donated PBSC. Before his donation, Darrell had only seen medical procedures on TV, or had heard about them in his work as a pharmacist, so he was understandably a bit nervous. “It was intimidating to think that I was donating to someone and I had no idea who they were” said Darrell, “but I would hope that if I were ever in that situation that someone else would do that for me.”
For five days leading up to the PBSC donation, Darrell received injections of a drug called filgrastim. This is given prior to every PBSC donation in order to increase the number of blood-forming cells in the bloodstream. As a result of the filgrastim injections, he experienced moderate bone pain and headaches, but claims that it was nothing compared to what his recipient was going through.
After donation, Darrell explained that “it was less painful than I thought it would be” and his recovery went smoothly.
The second donation – Marrow
Five years after his first donation, Darrell was found to be a match again—this time, for a 16-year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia. For this donation, Darrell was asked to donate marrow, a surgical outpatient procedure where liquid marrow is extracted from the pelvic bone. Marrow donation was the first time Darrell had ever experienced anesthesia. “I was educated step-by-step what the procedure would be like and any questions or concerns I had were quickly answered” said Darrell. This allowed him to go into the donation with confidence. Once his donation was complete, Darrell experienced slight tenderness in his back for two days and was then able to return to his everyday routine.
Although Darrell has never met either of his recipients, he recently received an update that both are doing well. “It was a very surreal experience” said Darrell. “Although I could be walking down the street next to one of my recipients and not even know, I am glad I joined the registry. It was a very positive experience.”
Darrell’s Advice to Others
Looking back on both donation experiences, Darrell is overjoyed. He shares his story proudly and encourages others to learn more about joining Be The Match Registry. “The more people you can let know about this cause, the better” said Darrell. “If I knew it was going to be that easy, I would donate every week if I could!”