A couple of weeks ago I read about a shot-putter at University of New Hampshire named Cameron Lyle. He is giving bone marrow to a critically ill 28-year-old; unfortunately because he is a senior, donation will end his shot-putting career at the school. I’m glad to hear that the guy didn’t even think of it as a question. He knew he had to donate.
Lyle was found for donation because he was in the bone marrow donor registry, as part of a drive run by UNH. I was really glad to hear this. Perhaps I just don’t get out enough, but at my two universities, I’ve never heard of such things.
How to join
In this post, I wanted to make sure that people knew that it is so easy to join the registry at marrow.org. It’s free (if you are under age 45), and involves no needles unless you match, which happens for about 1 in 540 people. You sign up on the marrow.org website. This is basically giving them your address, and a contact’s address so they don’t lose you in the future. A pack of q-tips come in the mail. You swab them in your cheeks, and send them back. And then you’re in the registry.
What to expect if you get selected, from my experience
I donated marrow several years ago to a family member. Most times, but not always, stem cells are induced into the bloodstream through a series of shots. Then when the stem cells are in your blood, you hook up to a machine which takes the stem cells out and puts the rest of your blood back in you. That separation process is called pheresis, and if you’ve ever given plasma, it’s a similar procedure. An out needle in one arm, and an in needle in the other. The biggest problem with this method, as one who experienced it, is using the restroom, because they want you well-hydrated and it takes a while. For young people, the stem-cell shots can cause some aches. I turned into the princess and the pea, sleeping on all the pillows in my house for a couple of days, but apparently that isn’t typical.
Sometimes they still do the old-fashioned big needle in the hip bone marrow transplant method. They often show this procedure on TV shows, but it’s less common than the stem cell donation I described above. It sounds like the shot-putter might be doing a marrow transplant, which would explain why he can’t shot put for a few weeks.
But basically, it something that you can do for free with very little inconvenience. In the unlikely event you get selected, it’s still not terribly involved. Minorities and people of mixed background are especially needed. There are FAQs and other info at marrow.org, too. Hopefully this will give you the info and motivation to join the registry, or encourage others to join.