Give the Gift of Life
In 2012, a friend's daughter-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia and told she needed a bone marrow transplant. They tested her four siblings, who were all matches for each other but none of them was a match for her. What are the odds?
As I began to think about what I'd do if one of my children needed a transplant, I researched the donor process. It turns out the odds of not having a family member match are actually pretty high. According to marrow.org, "Seventy percent of patients do not have a donor in their family and depend on the Be the Match Registry to find an unrelated bone marrow donor or umbilical cord blood."
Some transplants require the donor to give up part or all of an organ. Living organ donors undergo major surgery, stay a few days in the hospital, and live the rest of their lives without that organ. Bone marrow is different. A bone marrow donor undergoes an outpatient procedure, returning home the same day, and can expect to recover fully in six weeks. The body responds to a marrow donation by completely replenishing the lost marrow, similar to recovery after a blood donation. Most donors are feeling well enough to return to normal activity in three weeks.
A donor must be at least 18 years old but no older than 60. More than 90 percent of donors are between the ages of 18-44. Since donors from this age range are most compatible, agencies more routinely cover the cost for testing donors in this age group.
Some agencies underwrite the cost of donor testing; others ask donors to pay for the cost of their HLA tissue typing, which ranges from $45 to $100. This may be in the form of a tax-deductible donation. This is the only cost to a donor. Once selected to be a donor, all medical costs are covered by the recipient or the recipient's insurance.
If you've been wondering about a New Year's resolution, consider giving the gift of life. Find out how to be a donor here.