/The priceless gift

The priceless gift

Preventing blood cancer
Brooke Roberts
Guest Writer

Did you know that according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society approximately every three minutes someone in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer and approximately every nine minutes someone in the U.S. dies from a blood cancer? Leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and myelodysplastic syndromes are all types of blood cancers that can affect anyone and at any age.
During the holiday season many people think about how thankful they are for their friends and family. Imagine if one of your loved ones was facing a cancer diagnosis. Wouldn’t you do anything you could to help? According to deletebloodcancer.org, only 30% of patients are able to find a compatible bone marrow donor in their family. That means that it takes strangers like you and me to be willing to become a donor.
Registering as a donor is easy and can be done from your home for free. One, simply register online at deletebloodcancer.org. Then, swab at home and return them. Finally, you will be put on a list of donors to be contacted when you are needed.
Keep in mind that there are some eligibility requirements:
– Be between ages 18 and 55
– Be in good general health
– Weigh more than 110 pounds but not exceed BMI 40
– Cannot have the following health conditions: Heart surgery, heart disease, or stroke; HIV positive or have AIDS; hepatitis B or C; kidney or liver disease; chronic or severe neck or back problems; epilepsy or have had a seizure within one year; history of blood clotting or bleeding disorders; history of cancer (some are acceptable).
If you are a match for a patient you will be contacted to donate in one of two ways, peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) or bone marrow donation.
The PBSC is used 75% of the time; it is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that collects blood stem cells via the bloodstream. This procedure takes about four to eight hours on one to two consecutive days. There is a series of daily injections for four days before the collection. Some side effects for the donor include headaches, or bone or muscle aches as a result of the injections. Side effects subside shortly after collection.
The other method is the bone marrow donation and is a one to two hour surgical procedure performed under anesthesia where marrow cells are collected from the back of your pelvic bone using a syringe. Some side effects for the donor include some discomfort in the lower back and some effects of the anesthesia, such as nausea, sore throat or light headedness.
Many people feel helpless when they know someone with a cancer diagnosis, but becoming a marrow donor can allow you to take part in extending someone’s life. Talk to your friends and family about becoming donors too. Being a donor could be a holiday gift for someone that does not cost the giver, but means life to the recipient.
Visit deletebloodcancer.org to become a donor and be a part of deleting blood cancer. For more information visit: http://www.deletebloodcancer.org/en/register or http://www.lls.org/.