This is Craig’s story.
It started with a race
I’ve participated in the Fool’s Five as long as I can remember. My mom had cancer when I was 8 or 9, so it’s always been something big for my family to take part in. It’s a big cancer benefit and the community raises lots of money.
Last year was the first year the Be The Match Registry was at the race. My cousin and I were walking around and saw the table. We got a little more information and we both signed up.
Four months later — a match
When I was called, it was exciting, but a little nerve-racking, too, because I hadn’t really looked into the process. I was told I was a potential match for a sixteen-year-old boy, so I went in for more testing. A week later, I learned I was a perfect match.
When they asked if I was willing to go forward, there was no way I could say no. It’s a pretty awesome responsibility.
The donation process
(Note: Craig donated peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC). To learn about PBSC donation, see the PBSC donation process video.)
In between my class schedule, I would drive down to Minneapolis for the physical and the bloodwork, and then for my first shot of filgrastim. The next three days, a home nurse came to my house at school to give me the shots.
For my donation, I was hooked up to the machine for eight hours. It got uncomfortable towards the end, but my parents were there and a nurse took care of everything I needed.
As soon as I was done, someone put my donation in a cooler and took it away to wherever it was going. It all went as smoothly as I could hope.
Because I was able to donate, I decided to help recruit potential donors at the Fool’s Five race this year.
A lot of people came up to me to talk about my donation experience. I was able to answer questions and reassure people who had reservations. We signed up another 101 people this year, so it was a pretty neat experience.
What I tell people
A small commitment can make such a large impact. It was two days out of my schedule and an essentially painless process. But it made a huge impact for a teenage boy, maybe saved his life. It’s nothing anyone should be afraid of.
Look into donating and get on the registry.
Update December 2010: Many Be The Match Registry members who read this story asked us why they hadn’t been called to donate after years on the registry. Unfortunately we can’t predict when – or whether – any individual will be asked to donate. On average, about one in 200 registry members goes on to donate. You could be a match for a patient tomorrow, or many years after joining, or you may never be a match. A patient’s body will only accept marrow that closely matches the patient, and the system of markers being matched for transplant is much more complex than a blood type.