Vampires gravitate towards my husband. Not the type with fangs...I mean the type with needles and purple nitrile gloves. You see, he is tall and strapping with big veins popping out of his arms. His blood comes in a particularly delicious flavor - type O-. If he happens to miss the blood drive every couple months at work, we get a phone call asking if he can come by and donate.
Two months ago I was browsing the web while he was at work, and stumbled across the site for the National Marrow Donor Program. I didn't meet the requirements, but it looked like Adam did. Because of the high cost of testing, the program normally charges a fee to join the registry. Thanks to a large donation, they were offering kits for free until they ran out of funds. I let Adam know and asked him to think about it. Within a couple days, not only had he signed up but he had asked his work to spread the word. Instead of just telling the employees at his center, an email went out to every employee with the company...all 65,000 or so.
His kit came in the mail while we were preparing for a sale to benefit a family who's little girl was badly injured in a car accident. While we were waiting for guests to show up that first day, Adam pulled out the cheek swab kit and then dropped it in the mail. I think that we both figured it would be a couple years before he would get a match. Little did we know that doctors somewhere were searching to find a match for their patient...
We got a call from Fedex to confirm our address last Thursday. I thought it was a little strange, but I was expecting some packages and figured one was mislabeled. The next morning, the doorbell rang. For some reason the Fedex guy was standing there instead of sprinting back to his truck, so I rushed to the door. He had to confirm again that had the right residence. Strange, I thought. After he walked off, I stood there with the door open and tore open the envelope. I had to read the papers a couple times before calling Adam. He was a possible match for a 64 year old male. The patients doctor was trying to determine options as quickly as possible. Since it was Friday, Adam left a message on the donor coordinator's website. I spent the rest of the day reading about the donation procedure and what to expect.
Adam heard back from the coordinator yesterday. She wanted to confirm some information on his paperwork. He had a case of sinus ventricular tachycardia when he was in bootcamp. It was an isolated event and his doctors have cleared him of any problems. If their is any risk to the donor the coordinator will not allow a donation since this is a voluntary donation to a patient we do not know. (The rules for family are different and allow a little more risk.) She confirmed that he was willing to donate. After she checked with the doctor to see where the patient is in the process, she would call back to schedule confirmatory testing. The donor coordinator let us know that after the testing is complete, things could move quickly. The patient has to be prepared for the procedure through chemotherapy, and it may only be one to two weeks before they need the marrow. If the donor backs out at the last minute, the patient will almost certainly die. Gulp.
We've spent time talking about the two different collection procedures and how things might go. He understands what to expect. Some of his friends have asked why he'd go through the whole ordeal for someone he does not know and might not ever meet. His response? "What if it was your daughter, or brother, or friend that needed that donation? What if I that person's only chance?" It reminded me of a saying by the Jewish scholar Hillel. The name may not ring a bell to most, though his words do. Hillel the Elder penned another pretty famous saying - the 'golden rule'.
If I am not for myself, who will be?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when? -- Rabbi Hillel
For more information on bone marrow donation, please visit www.marrow.org.