The call and family support
It wasn’t until the summer of 2000 that Dwight was called as a potential match for a patient. After completing further confirmatory blood tests, Dwight was told that he was the best possible match for a woman, and that he would be donating peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC)—one of the two methods of donation. “When I was chosen, I wanted to both yell and cry for joy for what I could do for this patient,” said Dwight. Family, friends, church, work—everyone was very supportive of Dwight’s decision to donate. During his confirmatory blood testing, he tried to lighten the mood by singing, “stem cell man, stem cell man, I wanna be a stem cell man!” Prior to Dwight’s donation, his colleagues even gave him a “Stem Cell Man” t-shirt to acknowledge the importance of his gift. Dwight was able to bring his family to the donation center to share in the experience and to support him through the donation.
The PBSC donation process
PBSC donation is a nonsurgical procedure (much like donating plasma or blood) that takes place in a blood center or outpatient hospital unit. On the four days leading up to Dwight’s donation and on his donation day, Dwight was given injections of a drug called filgrastim to stimulate stem cell growth. This is a part of all PBSC donations. “On the second day of injections,” said Dwight, “I could actually feel the stem cells multiplying!”
During the PBSC donation, Dwight’s blood was removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separated out the blood-forming cells. Dwight’s remaining blood was returned through his other arm. Typically, a donor’s blood-forming cells are back to their normal levels within 4 to 6 weeks.
Dwight’s message to registry members
“Don’t lose hope that you might donate some day,” said Dwight. “It may never come, it may come tomorrow—but it’s important to keep your contact information updated so you can be contacted if you’re a match.”
Editor’s note: The patient who received Dwight’s stem cells passed away just under a year after her transplant. Dwight still sees his donation as a positive experience today because he was able to give the patient hope and time. He would donate again in a heartbeat.
After taking a personal interest in organ donation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that organ donors can now add their organ donation status as a Facebook Life Event. Did you know that you can easily add your Be The Match Registry commitment on Facebook too? Here’s how:
Save the image below to your computer.
From your personal Facebook timeline page:
- Click Life Event in the status update window at the top of your timeline
- Select Health & Wellness
- Select Other Life Event
- Title the event Joined Be The Match Registry as a potential Marrow Donor
- Upload the Be The Match image from above (right click to save
- Insert the date you joined the registry – if you are unsure, please call us at 1-800-MARROW2
- Add the location and a line or two about your story (optional)
- For donor/patient confidentiality reasons, please don’t post your donation date if you have donated marrow or PBSC.
Note: As with some personal information on Facebook, this Life Event status can be kept private or shared publicly or only with friends. In order to share this Life Event, you need to upgrade to Facebook timeline. To get started go to the Introducing Timeline page and click Get It Now. Learn more about upgrading.
Patrick Abdul was a leader in Wagner College football team’s “Get in the Game. Save a Life” marrow donor recruitment campaign in 2008. Their efforts added more than 200 students to the Be The Match Registry.
Two of those students have already been called as a possible
match. One of them was Patrick.
A two-year-old patient
Patrick went on to donate to a two-year-old boy with anemia. “The future for that two-year-old little boy hopefully is long and healthy,” says Patrick.
He hopes that his recipient “gets to do everything that I was able to do as a kid, with no health problems.… And grows up to play football, to be a strong guy like me,” he adds with a smile.
The chance to save a life
The chance to save a life meant a lot to Patrick. He was happy to be part of his team’s community service event adding people to the registry, but he didn’t give it much thought. When he learned he was a match, it really hit home for him that this was something real, something that mattered. He could actually be the one to save another person’s life. It was a great feeling.
The donation process
He donated peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), which required getting shots of a drug called filgrastim for five days. The filgrastim moves more blood-forming cells into the bloodstream where they can be collected for transplant.
- To learn more about donating PBSC, watch the PBSC donation video >
“I’m not going to lie,” says Patrick. The side effects of the shots felt like getting the flu.
“So that wasn’t too pleasant. But it was only for five days, and you’re giving someone a lifetime. It was 100% worth it to me.”
Patrick is featured near the end of the new “Get in the Game” video made to inspire coaches and players to get involved in adding donors to Be The Match Registry.
In an effort to raise $1 million to give bone marrow transplant patients like Joey one less thing to worry about, Be The Match Foundation collaborated with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” A campaign for patient assistance funds was created and officially kicked off during Sunday’s episode.
For more information about the patient assistance funds visit http://bit.ly/c5Blf
To view Sunday’s episode of Extreme Makeover:
Home Edition go to http://bit.ly/3U5WAQ
To join the Be The Match Registry go to www.marrow.org/join
The opportunity to pay back
My wife works for the post office, and this was how we became involved. (Editor’s note: The United States Postal Service’s long partnership with Be The Match has added more than 47,000 donors to the marrow registry.)
But the reason for my donation goes back to before I was born. It hit me like a brick wall when I got the call to possibly be a bone
I’ve finally found a way to repay the person who not only
gave me life, but also saved my life very early on.
My mother’s choice
While pregnant with me, my mother was told she had developed a form of cancer. The doctor told her she could treat the cancer but the baby wouldn’t live through the treatment, or she could bring the baby to full term but she would die because the cancer would be too far along. Without pause, my mother decided the baby would live.
As it turned out, the doctor was wrong and my mother didn’t have cancer. Had she decided to have the treatment, I wouldn’t have been born. Service to others, putting them first before her own needs — that’s how my mother, Mary E. Baughn, lived her life. (After 74 years and two bouts with cancer, Mary passed from this life to her heavenly reward.)
Second thoughts about doing this? Never entered my mind!
I hate needles and my family knew this. They all wondered how I would go through the “pincushion” phase.
Well, it wasn’t that bad. I really never had a lot of pain, even after the marrow collection procedure.
Everyone I talked to at the National Marrow Donor Program, especially my contact person Cindy Hofkes, made me feel like I was the only person they were dealing with. The donation procedure at Miami Valley was a breeze, thanks to all the wonderful people there.
Only a few people get a chance to possibly save a life. Sign up! Be a match!