What a horrible, horrible name. Anyway, I'm donating bone marrow.
I'm gay and that's no secret. I am not allowed to donate blood because of antiquated homophobic FDA rules that I won't get into here. I can however donate bone marrow.
I signed up with Be the Match a few years back. I'm not allowed to donate blood, as I said, but I am allowed to donate bone marrow, so why not? A couple weeks ago, I got the call that I'd matched with someone.
This process is not an overnight quick thing, either. The week I got the call, I had to go into the donation office for paperwork, then head out to a doctor for a full physical. This morning, I had to be up early for an appointment back at the donation office.
This morning's appointment was for my first round of filgrastim shots. Filgrastim is a drug that stimulates the growth of blood stem cells in your body, which is necessary for the donation. I had to receive two injections of it this morning. They were administered by a terrific employee, Renetta, at the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, where Be the Match operates through in Houston. I have to take these injections every day today (Sunday) through Wednesday. Thursday is donation day.
Renetta will not be here to administer the shots in my own apartment tomorrow through Wednesday. Either I will be giving myself these shots, or Alfre might (if he can be here in the morning, when I'm required to take them).
Don't let the existence of my tattoos nor my ability to watch the artist tattooing me fool you: I hate needles. I don't mind getting shots or getting my blood drawn, but I cannot watch the needle go in. And now, the ultimate test: Giving myself not just one shot, but two.
The bone marrow transplant is a fascinating procedure, too. The type of donation I am doing is the peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation for bone marrow transplants. The same blood-forming cells that are found in bone marrow are also found in the circulating (peripheral) blood.
I will sit in a chair with my blood being drawn from one arm into a machine, where some of my blood stem cells will be filtered out to be transplanted into the recipient. The blood will then be lined back into my body through the other arm. Kind of like dialysis.
Once complete, my blood stem cells will be taken to the patient, where his immune system will be killed, and mine transplanted.
The most insane part of this is that he will take on my dietary preferences and allergies, among other things. How cool is that?
I'm not allowed to know anything about him other than his age (67), gender (M), and that he is suffering from lymphoma. He only knows my age and gender as well. If the procedure works, we will be allowed to contact one another after a year has passed.
Alfre says that this is kind of like being a sugar daddy, only I'm giving him my stem cells for his bone marrow instead of money. I'm his bone daddy, if you will (I'm so sorry).
Anyway, I'll update here on the blog over the next few days as I progress through it. The filgrastim injections are said to give you flu-like symptoms as each day passes. I got my first round this morning at 10:30AM. It's only 1:30PM and I've got a pounding headache.
I lay this all out to be up front about the donation process, but in all honesty I'm glad to be doing this. I only hope, for my bone baby's sake (hnngg), that it takes and he is able to recover.
If you are interested in signing up to become a bone marrow donor yourself, please visit BeTheMatch.org.