A Donor’s Story: Why African Americans Should Step Up and Donate Bone Marrow
Health and Wellness Lifestyle

A Donor’s Story: Why African Americans Should Step Up and Donate Bone Marrow

(Image: Sean Patterson)

(Image: Jasmin DeBerry)

Can you take us through the process?

The process took about four hours. I did the PBSC (peripheral blood stem cells) donation. Blood was taken from my arm, filtered through a machine that extracted what was needed, and the rest was returned to my body. The five days leading up to the donation I was given a shot to multiply my blood cells faster. Each day a home nurse came to my house to give me the shot. My body was working overtime to produce more blood cells so I had flu-like symptoms. I was really tired but nothing too serious.

After the donation, I was back to my normal self. The day of the donation I was tired and went back to the hotel and slept the rest of the day, but after two days I was back to normal.

Can you help dispel any myths or rumors people may have about the marrow donation process?

The procedure is not painful. Only 23% of donors have to undergo surgical procedures. The PBSC method is similar to donating plasma; it is just for a longer period of time. The little pain that I did experience is nothing when I think about the idea of giving someone a second chance at life. We have the ability to help someone and it is our responsibility. If you are healthy, then this is a very easy process. Also, it cost the donor absolutely nothing to donate. Transportation, lodging, and food are all taken care of.

What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to join a bone marrow registry?

Think about what this means before you register. 70% of blood cancer patients do not find a match in their family, so they rely on the Be the Match Registry. If you are selected as a match, you are special and you are most likely this person’s one and only match. This is someone’s life, so if you commit to signing up to be in the registry, please commit to answering the call if you are a match.

Black patients in need of donors are much less likely to find a match, so there is a huge need for more African Americans in the registry. Don’t be afraid. Even ordinary people can do extraordinary things. I am proof of that, God used me to do his work, and I feel blessed by the work I was allowed to do.

To learn more about how the transplant process works, visit Be The Match.