What is bone marrow anyway? A few basics

Posted March 10th, 2011 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories, News
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Have you ever wondered how bone marrow transplants work? Here are quick answers to some common questions.

What is bone marrow?

Bone marrow produces blood cells for the body. The blood-forming cells in bone marrow grow into:

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body
  • White blood cells, which help the body fight infection
  • Platelets, which help control bleeding

A healthy body is always making new blood-forming cells, which are necessary for survival. If the blood-forming cells begin making many abnormal cells and not enough healthy blood cells, as happens in leukemia, a marrow transplant to replace the blood-forming cells may be the best treatment.

What diseases are treated with a marrow transplant?

Cheryl with her bone marrow donationA bone marrow transplant is a standard treatment option for many patients with life-threatening diseases like leukemia or lymphoma, which are cancers of the blood. 71% of transplants facilitated by the National Marrow Donor Program are for patients with leukemia or lymphoma.

Transplant can also be used to treat other disorders, such as sickle cell disease and certain immune system and  genetic disorders. (Here’s a more detailed list of diseases treated with transplant.)

How does a transplant work?

A bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant replaces a patient’s unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy cells.

First, patients are treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to destroy unhealthy cells. Next, a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are given directly into the patient’s bloodstream. This is like a blood transfusion.

For a patient’s body to accept these healthy cells, the patient needs a donor who is a close match. Doctors first look for a matching donor within a patient’s family, but 70% of patients do not have a suitable donor in their family. They depend on the Be The Match Registry to find an unrelated bone marrow donor or umbilical cord blood unit.

Over the next three to four weeks, the donated cells begin to grow and make new blood cells in the patient’s body, and the patient begins the recovery process. To learn more, read about the patient’s recovery process.

77 Responses to “What is bone marrow anyway? A few basics”

  1. Andrea Farr Capizzi says:

    Of the 70% of patients that do not have a suitable donor in thier family, how many find a match from Be The Match Registry?

    • Stacy says:

      Hi Andrea, I work with Be The Match. Our data has shown that a patient’s likelihood of having a donor on the Be The Match Registry who is willing and able to help save a life is estimated to range from 66% to 93%, depending on race or ethnicity.

      Any individual patient’s chances of finding a match depends on that person’s tissue type. A person’s tissue type may be common, uncommon or rare. Tissue types are inherited, so patients are most likely to match the tissue type of someone who shares their racial or ethnic heritage.

      • Leah says:

        Thanks Stacey for your answer on this question. All answers here are very helpful. I do have a question, however. Below, a person asked how likely it would be for him to be called to donate and the statistics were 1 in 1 million. How is it that the likelihood of someone finding a match is so high–at 66%-93–but the likelihood of even being called so drastically low? Thank you very much.

        • Petia says:

          Here is an article on the statistics – http://www.bethematchblog.org/2011/04/what-are-your-chances-of-donating-to-a-patient/.

          I wouldn’t pretend to know the answer, but one possibility for the difference between the numbers of 1 out of 40 people (2.5%) who are called to potentially donate and the 2 out of 3, or almost 1 out of 1 people (66-93%) who find a donor is that there are a lot more people on the Registry than there are people who need a transplant… which is good news! But for some people who find only 1 potential donor from the 9 million on the Registry it is still scary news.

          This is why we need more people on the registry, and hopefully more people who go through with donating if they are chosen and are healthy. My boyfriend was selected to be a donor – it wasn’t painless, and I can’t speak for him, but I have a feeling that in such matters a few days of pain pale to the possibility of giving someone another chance.

      • Wendy says:

        Hi I’m wanting to find my son’s recepient. He passed June 2009. Because of his age I was told o my his heart valves were the only things that could be donated. How do I find out if anyone ever received them? Please help me!!!

  2. Tammy DeCoteau says:

    When a drive to sign up donors was being held at a powwow I was at, the person said that native americans were more likely to match another native american. Why is that? And does that apply to all races?

    • Patricia King says:

      You are more likely to match someone from your own ethnic/racial background. I don’t know why, I just know it is true. There is information about in on the Be the Match website.

    • Jessica says:

      There are many genetic factors which go into finding a match. Because people of the same race statistically have more genes which are the same than two people of different races would have, the likelihood of finding a match is greater within the same race.

  3. Jeffrey Rich says:


    My name is Jeffrey Rich. I have never donated bone marrow but I frequently donate blood and platelets to the American Red Cross. My blood type is O- which is the universal donor type (don’t know if that matters in bone marrow match). I would like to know more about what is involved, if I can be of assistance to anyone in need.



    • Jessica says:


      Check out the main site and learn all about joining the registry and what is involved here:

      Glad you’re interested!

    • Lisa says:


      There are many factors for making a bone marrow donor match to someone in need, in addition to blood type. When you donate platelets with the RedCross, they can take the needed sample to place your information on the marrow donor registry. That’s what I did – they had a pamphelet of information when I signed up which explained everything.

  4. peggy says:

    I became a potential donor a few years ago. I wonder why I haven’t been called after all this time. there must be an awful lot of donors…Could it be because I have B negative blood?

    • Rhonda says:

      Peggy, when I got tested for the bone marrow registry the guy doing it told me there was a 1 in 1 million chance I would match someone… I think getting matched up to someone is pretty rare.

      • Jay says:

        Peggy, I had signed up on the registry twelve plus years when I got a call that I was a match. I had forgot that I had signed up. I donated and my recipient has survived so far for nine months. So hang in there and maybe your the next one to be called.

      • Donna says:

        I have been on the registry for 12+ years and within 1 year of joining the list I have 2 people. The first (a man) died the day before they were to harvest the marrow from me and the 2nd person (a lady), I was told was not reaady although I was the chose donor when the time came.. Today I still dont know the circumstances of her not proceeding with the transplant. I often wonder if I will ever match yet another person and what would the chances be. I thought to match 1 was one in a million but so far I have matched 2.

        • Josie says:

          @ Donna- It really depends. My mother was a match and donated. She was matched again nearly 10 years later, but was unable to donate due to her age. She’s O- as well, which just means she was able to be a potential match to a much wider group of people, and thus, more likely to find a match.

          @ Peggy – I’ve been registered for 10 years and no calls. But that’s fine. That’s not the point. The point is to be there, to help save a life when the time comes. It’s not like if you don’t get called in x amount of time, it’s because they “don’t need you.”

        • Jujub says:

          Wow. It is amazing that you had two responses, though they were not taken. I guess that is why they say the odds are low?

    • julie says:

      I was a donor last year and had been on the list for 12 to 15 years, so long ago that I had forgotten about it.

    • Jack says:

      I have been on the list since around 1991 and haven’t given marrow to anyone. However, my name is going to stay on the list till I hit the age limit. This is a good cause and saves lives.

  5. Kenton Spading says:

    Andrea wrote: Of the 70% of patients that do not have a suitable donor in thier family, how many find a match from Be The Match Registry?

    Kenton replies: It depends on your ethnic background. If you are white and of northern european heritage the odds can be as high as 80% of higher due to the fact that more people of that background are registered. By contrast, if you are of middle eastern background the odds go way down. Latin Americans are also under represented.

    Jeffrey Rich wrote: I would like to know more about what is involved, if I can be of assistance to anyone in need.

    Kenton replies: From the Be The Match website you can order a register kit which will be mailed to you. Do some cheek swabs, send them in and your will be registered. Alternatively, all Be The Match and see if a registry event is being held in your area. The Twin Cities, for example, have them most months.

    Peggy asked about blood type: Blood type does not matter. They look for HLA markers…not blood type. My wife is 0 Pos. She received stem cells from a person that was A Pos. She will now have A Pos blood and male blood on top of that.

  6. Julianne says:

    My husband battled leukemia for 8 years and after telling his doctor he wanted to have a bone marrow transplant it took them only four months to find the “perfect” donor. Unfortunately, his platetelets never came back. It’s only now almost two years later, that I can read stories like this and not cry about why it did not work for him (it was only five weeks). I am grateful for the person who gave his chance – he wanted the transplant and was aware of the possibilities but he also knew that it was his best chance to not have to go thru chemo treatments three times every single week. It was an amazing process and I thank everyone – the donors, the doctors, the caregivers. And I thank God for giving me Douglas for the time I had him in my life.

    Thank you for being a donor – I am in the registry too and would be thrilled to be called.

    • Shannon S. says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. But maybe there is a bigger picture or plan in place. You said you were on the list now, who knows maybe losing your husband has aloud you to save a life in the future (because of the registry). Needless to say I am in tears here from your story. I wish you all the best. And I am sure your Douglas is in a better place now.

    • Michelle says:

      I am very sorry for your husband. My husband also had Leukemia and passed 5 years ago. I am on the registry and pray I can help someone live thru this terrible disease.

  7. David says:


    I donated Bone Marrow in 1997, five yrs after I signed up, to a 14 yr old girl Named Amber. On a sad note Amber died two yrs after receiving the marrow of complications. I would have loved to meet this brave little girl before she passed away

    • Lisa says:

      Bless your heart, David. That’s sad but unfortunately nothing is a guarantee….. I’ve been on the list for about 15 years and have never been notified. It’s great there are people out there, like you, who did such a great thing.

  8. Richard Soucey says:

    I had an unrelated bone marrow transplant in April, 1993 for Leukemia (CML) at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. I am celebrating my 18th year post transplant in April thanks to my donor Megan. We searched for a match for 4 years before we finally found Megan. It was great to have an opportunity to survive.

  9. Tammy says:

    I have been on the Bone Marrow Registry since 1988 — and NEVER been contacted. I wish I would match someone and could help someone!

    • Robert says:

      Tammy, I have similarly been on forever and not contacted. Just never the best match, I guess, but I like to think that it’s the willingness to be there if needed, that’s important.

  10. Megan R says:

    In 2004 my husband (then boyfriend) had a transplant from an unrelated donor. The process was a long one, but I am happy to say that 6 years later he is healthy and happy. Every day as I look at him I thank the unknown individual who saved his life and gave me back my very best friend.

  11. Donna says:

    I have been on the registry for 12+ years and within 1 year of joining the list I have matched 2 people. The first (a man) died the day before they were to harvest the marrow from me and the 2nd person was a lady, after being told I was the chosen donor they said she was not ready to proceed with the transplant. Today I still dont know the circumstances of her not proceeding.
    I do often wonder if I will ever match yet another person and what would the chances be to match a third. I thought to match 1 was one in a million but so far I have matched 2.

  12. Scott M says:

    I was notified several years ago of being a preliminary match for someone and went through further blood tests but did not match after that. Does this mean since I have had further tests, if I were to match now it would it mean there is a better chance of me being a donor? Also, I was diagnosed with MS 3 years ago. Would this effect my chances of being a donor for someone if I were to be a match?

    • admin says:

      Hi Scott, I’m sorry, but a diagnosis of MS would make you ineligible to donate. (You can see the medical guidelines here: http://www.marrow.org/DONOR/When_You_re_Contacted_as_a_Pos/Medical_Guidelines/index.html#Autoimmune)

      To help Be The Match keep donor information current, you can submit the change in your health status via this form: http://www.bethematch.org/address

      Thank you for your time on the registry and commitment to helping save lives.

      • Liz says:

        I was just recently notified that I am a possible match. I submitted my medical history report and have done the (home swabbing kit). Now just waiting for results from that. What are the odds of me being a match?

  13. Kathy Hutchison says:

    My grandson was 19 months and developed AML Leukemia on 7/8/2010. Instead of the doctor putting in a search for a match on Be the match as soon as he was told he had Leukemia. The doctors at Children’s hospital in DC refused to do the search. They said he had to go through 5 rounds of Chemo. Than if he still had Leukemia, they would than look. After the second round of chemo Gavin Beltran was in remission. He was strong and healthy. He was strong enough to endure a BMT.
    If the hospital had searched the registry as soon as he was diagnosed and had a donor ready they would have saved his life. It takes a good 2-3 months to have a donor ready. That is if they find a match. But after Gavin’s 3rd round of chemo. They sent Gavin home. When he left the hospital we could see something wrong with his eye. We brought up our concerns to the hospital. They ignored us. He was developing a Leukemic tumor in his right eye. The tumor within days was the size of a gulf ball. So at that point the Leukemia had spread from his blood to his soft tissues. We transferred him to John Hopkins hospital. Because he had to start getting radiation treatments ASAP for the fast growing tumor on his eye. And he also had to start the 4th round of chemo. So John Hopkins said that they had to search the registry for a BMT. They began this search 4 months after Gavin was diagnosed with Leukemia. The hospitals are letting patients like Gavin die. I think when a patient ever goes in remission. They need to have a donor ready and do a BMT. He had to have one in order to live. This was In November. They said it would take two months for everyone to come fourth and get tested. It just saddens my heart. To know that this beautiful child could have gotten a BMT transplant. If only the doctors would stop trying to go 5 rounds of chemo. I think If the patient ever goes into remission. They should get the transplant at that time. I think ASAP after you find out you have Leukemia. Demand that they start a search. So that a donor will be there waiting to save someone’s life. They did find 2 matches for Gavin. But Gavin died before they could do a transplant. Once the Leukemia had spread to Gavin’s soft tissues. He started developing Tumors all over his body. He never had a chance after that. Please don’t let this happen to your child. He was our world. Now he is our Angel.
    Gavin John Beltran died on Dec 20, 2010 at 6:00 P.M.
    He would have turned two years old on Dec 31, 2010. But he didn’t make it. Don’t let this happen to your loved one.

    • Deanna says:

      I am sorry for your loss. My son was diagnosed with AML in 1997 and MD Anderson Cancer Center did check the registry right away as well as tested his half brother and sister, even though they didn’t think they would match. He did do the standard rounds of chemo to try and achieve remission and he did well the first 5 months. He then began to relapse and he was given every kind and combination of chemo available at the time and still would not go back in remission. Once he had exhausted all the chemo treatments they gave us the option of transplant even though he was fully relapsed and his bone marrow was 86% leukemia cells. They told us the chance of a transplant working were less than 5%. His match were umbilical cord cells that were flown in from Germany and there were less cells than the doctor would have liked. The transplant process itself went fine and Nick’s recovery progressed well with only some minor complications. He is now 19 years old and healthy. AML is rare in children and difficult to treat, there is still only about a 40% cure rate. Success rate of BMT is about 50%. Different hospitals may have different protocols for treatment. My son was fortunate to be at a Cancer Center that treated him aggressively.

    • Kristina says:

      As an Oncology nurse Kathy, I am SO SO sorry this happened to you. I can’t stress enough for patients to advocate for themselves. Even though you shouldn’t have to. Also ask nursing staff to help too. Some may not want to but up a fight, but most will. With this said, there are reasons they must pursue chemo prior to transplant. In order to get into remission so the transplant can take place. The problem is the window of remission can be small and must be taken advantage of, if possible. Kathy I am so sorry your requests were not heard multiple times. This truly breaks my heart. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Susy says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m not a doctor, therefore cannot really comment on their procedures and forms of treatment. However, 5 rounds of chemo for such a young child doesn’t sound right to me. Thanks for sharing your story and for bringing awareness to the specialists.

    • Annette Bollinger says:

      That is So heart-wrenching….I’m so Sorry for you and your family, Kathy!!
      I guess the Only positive thing I can say about your story is for you to Know that it Will open eyes for some to Not let the doctors call All of the shots….when it is Our family, especially, and something doesn’t seem right then we Have to become such a Huge voice that Will be heard until things are Done!!
      So bless you for this insight….and God Bless your family!

  14. elisa says:

    Dear Kathy, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I joined the registry last year and eagerly wait for the day to be called. When I get new registry emails I get excited and nervous to open them. What a honor it would be to help another human being fight this terrible disease.

    My mother died of colon cancer. I know its not the same kind,however she died suffering horribly. I will never get over this loss or forget how difficult it was to watch a love one who is sick and there is no further treatment possible. Now I am going through this again with my father. He is battling prostate cancer and it’s tough.

    But we can do all things through Christ which strengthen us. ( Philippians 4:13)

    I hope god calls upon me tomorrow to be a match!

    • Susy says:

      Elisa: I know exactly what are you talking about. My Mom died from colon cancer as well. It was so terrible to see her fighting for her life in that cold IUC room. She was hooked to those machines and her body was cold. There was nothing the docs could do for her, just wait. I’m sorry about your father going through this. As you sadi God will give you strenght.

  15. Dorene says:

    I have been on the registry for about 14 years. 13 years ago my then 11 year-old son was diagnosed with ALL (leukemia). He was treated with chemo for three years and was thought to be cured. Two years ago, December he relapsed. He received a matched, unrelated donor (MUD)transplant almost 2 years ago. His donor was a young woman from outside the US. At two years out we may get to find out their name, depending on the donor’s country’s rules.
    His leukemia appears to be gone. the transplant is successful. He has had many side effects (some life-threatening, some on-going and debilitating) from the pre-tranplant chemo and radiation as well as the medicines and immune issues related to recovery. I have heard some people consider it a “quick fix” and think that 30 or 100 days later it is all behind you. For some people that may be true, but it is not an easy process for many. (Different types of transplants have different levels of difficulty to recovery) Unfortunately, not everyone can find a good match. Some will die from transplant related problems.
    It is still worth the fight and I am sure he will turn that corner and be well again. It has been a long road, but we are blessed to have these two years and the possibility of a long life. We are thankful every day for his donor. I would gladly accept if called to be a donor. Meanwhile I can donate blood and encourage others to join the registry. Thanks to all of you who are on the registry, even if you are never called, you are willing. I for one appreciate it.

    • Susy says:

      Best wishes to your son. He is a fighter. Sending you ++++ energy.

    • Janice says:

      People don’t really understand the severity of a transplant. The complications from GVHD alone can kill you. It is definitely not a quick fix. It truly saddens me when I see TV programs where someone on there is supposed to have had a transplant and 2 months later is our running around. It is a long recovery process. Nothing like shown on the tv programs. I am so grateful to be a survivor. God has truly blessed me since my transplant 5 1/2 years ago and I pray that He continues to bless your son.

  16. Rhea says:


    I was a donor last month; it was the first time I was contacted and I signed up about 10 yrs ago (actually forgot that I had signed up). Donating marrow is a lot more involved than I originally thought, but less painful than I thought it was going to be. Overall, a pretty amazing experience. Hopefully, after a year, I’ll be able to find out if the recipient did well!

  17. Nichole says:

    I was a senior in High School when I became familiar with the Bone Marrow Registry. My Participation in Govt teacher had been a donor years before and on the first day of class he shared his story with us… in vivid detail…in the hopes that some of us would consider becoming a donor. I can’t tell you how many students he inspired to become donors, I can only speak for myself.

    I was 18 when I joined the registry, and about four yrs later recieved a letter saying I matched someone but that his health was not well.. and when he was ready they would be in touch… they never got in touch. The following year I recieved another letter saying I was a match for someone else, but there was someone that was a closer match, that I was the “back up”.. I was never contacted again for that person.
    But not long after that I recieved another letter saying I was a match for a little girl with AML. We went through the process and I donated in 99′. Not long after I donated she ended up getting something called graft vs host disease.. and they asked if I would do something called a stem cell donation… which I did. And as far as I know she is doing well today. I have left the door open for her to contact me when and if she so chooses.. my hope is that she will.

    A few years later I decided to go back to my old school and let my teacher know that he made a difference.. that he helped save a life. I went at the end of the school year.. a few days before the last day of school. I wasn’t one of those students that stood out in class.. I was the quiet type.. so when he walked in the office I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t recognize me or my name. I simply stood up and said to him “Mr. S*****, I just wanted you to know you made a difference.. by sharing your story with me, you helped save a little girls life” I went on to explain what happpened.. he just stood there with tears running down his face, ( his recipient didn’t make it), and he grabbed me.. hugged me.. and said “I don’t know what made you come “now”.. but I am sooo glad you did, you just gave me the greatest gift anyone could have given me.. today is my last day.. I’m retiring”.
    I’ve never seen or spoken to him again.. but all these years he is with me.. by simply sharing his story, he made a difference in sooo many lives.. I just hope that I can pay that forward.

  18. Kristina says:

    As an oncology nurse I see first hand how each donor helps and a transplant brings hope to families and patients. Truth be said, yes many patients do not survive, but some do pull through ONLY BECAUSE OF YOUR GENEROSITY! So please, please register. You honestly could save a life.

  19. Kelly from NJ says:

    Although I have been on the Bone Marrow Registry for several years, I often think about when I will be contacted to help someone in need. I am looking forward to that day. There are some really remarkable stories…would love to know that I helped someone in that way……

  20. Jake says:

    Hello everyone- I am a first year medical student and registered donor. If you’re interested in learning more about immunology and the science behind matching a donor, take a look at this website (especially useful for those with a science background). http://pathmicro.med.sc.edu/book/immunol-sta.htm Chapters 10 and 15 are the most relevant.
    Good luck, donors and patients. Thanks for sharing your stories as well!

  21. Janice from WI says:

    My youngest brother, also a son, husband, father and “favorite” uncle to my kids, was diagnosed with leukemia about 4 years ago. We are a family of 7 kids so we thought for sure one of his six siblings would be a match. We each waited with great anticipation as one by one we were informed we were not a viable match for our brother. With meds, he went into remission and now is doing very well. I pray every day he won’t have to wait for a match. At the same time I pray I will be called to “Be the Match” for someone in need.

  22. Darryl says:

    I am on the doner list right now. I just want to know, it won’t have me take my name off the list, does the transplant hurt?

    • Stacy says:

      I work with Be The Match. If you donate, your physical experience will depend on whether you donate marrow or PBSC. With either method, the level of discomfort can vary from person to person.
      You can see more info here: http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/Myths_%26_Facts_about_Marrow_Don/index.html

  23. Orlen says:

    I wonder why they stop allowing people to be on the donors list after age 61? Also you now only got 4 years to find me someone to help.

  24. Lori says:

    Daryl, I was on the donor list for about 2 years and then got a call saying I was a 100% match. In that time I developed diabetes, but I was still able to donate stem cells and plasma since they could not do bone marrow. The donation took about 6 hours, I was drained, but the next day I was on the road to recovery. Not much pain. The nurse that worked with me was a donor for bone marrow and said it hurt for one day, but hey to save a life, it is worth it. Stay on the list, you never know who you might be able to save, mine donation was for a 1 year old baby boy.

  25. Mellanie Clay says:

    I was the first international donor for Dallas. My marrow went to a 10 year old in France. Darryl, it does not hurt. Taking the bandage off is the worse part, sort of like pulling off a bandaid that’s stuck on hair! Do not be afraid. I went to a shopping mall the day after I was released from the hospital.

  26. Mellanie Clay says:

    I meant worst, not worse!

  27. CW says:

    How is bone marrow removed from the donor?

    • Stacy says:

      CW, you can see the steps of marrow donation here (be sure to click on the video links midway down the page to see animations of the process): http://www.marrow.org/DONOR/When_You_re_Asked_to_Donate_fo/Steps_of_Donation/index.html

  28. Darren says:

    I was registered 10 -15 years ago. Have there been recent advances made in determining tissue compatability so that I should re-test/re-register so that a greater chance of a match might be determined?
    Thank You,
    Sycamore, IL

  29. MARGIE says:

    I’m a doctor now, but joined Be the Match many years ago. Is there new technology available? Should I send a new tissue sample? Please reply soon, as I’m only 3 years away from 61, although in excellent health .

  30. karen g says:

    I was on the list for about 12 years and forgot about it then one day I got the “call”. It was a really awesome experience being a donor. I was able to send an anonymous letter with my marrow and received cards anonymously at holidays for 2 years from my recipient’s wife. Sadly he passed after two years from complications before we were allowed to meet. I feel blessed to have been involved in the entire process 🙂

  31. Daniela says:

    I have severe anxiety and do not do well with shots or blood samples (at all). However, I just registered today as someone that my husband knows is in desperate need. I am extremely nervous about this but know that it is my calling to put my name in and to be there for this woman or others who need me. I don’t know how I’ll do it, but I will if called upon.

    I thank God every day for my health…it is such a gift that many take for granted.

  32. Jenni says:

    I registered my sophomore year college when my boyfriend’s (now husband’s) fraternity was having a blood drive/bone marrow registry sign-up thing…I couldn’t give blood at the time but they said I could be on the registry anyway, so I let them take a little bit of blood and went on my way, never really thinking about it after that. During my senior year (beginning of 2006 I believe), I got the call that I matched someone! I was so shocked and scared but excited! I am not really good with needles at all (I got woozy just watching my boyfriend give blood), and so the idea was pretty scary, but then I thought about the person who needed it and figured that cancer is a lot scarier than a few shots and some needles for a day or two. I went forward with the process and was chosen as the match that they wanted to go with. I was medically cleared to donate, but then the patient got sick and was never healthy enough to start the process and he passed away that April. My heart was aching for his family :(. Then lo and behold, that October I was called again because I match another person! I was SO excited, I jumped at the chance to help, and I was chosen as the most suitable match (although this time it took a lot longer…I don’t think I found out that I was chosen until March of the next year). I was able to donate in April of 2007, then again to the same patient in August of 2007. Last I heard it had worked, and I am so grateful for the chance to have helped someone have a little more time on this earth with her family. I think if I can do this (I am a MAJOR wimp when it comes to these things usually!), ANYONE can do this! I HIGHLY encourage everyone to sign up…even if you never get a call, you’re one more chance a person has to find a match!

    • Jean says:

      Jenni – Like you, I am terrified of needles and the one time I tried to donate blood, I nearly passed out & they had to stop the donation. But when I got the call, I thought a few days of discomfort is nothing compared to what my recipient was going through. I donated stem cells and the nurses had to put towels over my arms so I wouldn’t see the needles! I would do it again n a heartbeat, though! Why wouldn’t a person want to save a life?

  33. kate says:

    My little boy Oliver had a bmtin 2009,he was 2,and he had an unrelated donor,Oliver had LAD 1,THE BONE MARROW HAS TAKEN 100%,he is doing amazing,and is our little miracle,we would love to meet the donor and thank them for saveing Olivers life,and all the staff at Great Ormand Hospital were amazing,

  34. Shane Greene says:

    I had the privelage of being an unrelated donor about 6 years ago after 14 years on the register. It was agood experience and a wonderful chance to help someone in need. I will do it again if I get the call. Not sure how my recepiantis doing but just knowing i was able to help is enough.

  35. Deborah Doody says:

    Our son had a bone marrow transplant (AML) when he was 11. Our younger son was his donor. He is now 30! So grateful. Both my husband and I are on the National Registry list. I was contacted in the fall and submitted my swab test. I was told at that time that I was a preliminary match but the woman that needed the transplant was not “ready” to receive one at that time. I was so sad and disappointed that I was not able to donate to her. I often think about her and wonder how she is. I will stay on the Registry as long as my age permits.

  36. Mike P says:

    After being on the registry for 6 years, I was selected and donated blood stem cells for the first time last December. Some aches and pains and minor inconvenience, but it felt nice to help a particular patient. I am O- and have donated whole blood on a regular basis for many years. I learned that the engraftment was successful, the patient was released from the hospital, and is in the recovery process. I have no other expectations but would like it if my patient responded to my anonymous note, hopefully I can meet him after a year if we wants to.

  37. Jean says:

    Hi, I felt compelled to share my story here. I was on the list for only a month when I was called. I ended up being an almost perfect match for my recipient, a man with leukemia. I donated stem cells and a few months after donating, I received a very nice thank you note from my recipient. He was even well enough to go back to work! Unfortunately, several months after that, his body started to reject the cells and he passed away. I was so upset that it didn’t work, but I have to remember that I gave him at least 6 months more with his family and friends. I would love to donate again and pray that I will be a match for someone else in the future.

  38. cancer center chicago says:

    I love the way you convey thoughts and present your materials. Thanks for sharing.

  39. Torri Hudspeth says:

    Good analysis , I am thankful for the facts . Does anyone know where my company could get a blank IRS 1023 example to fill in ?

  40. Eric Romeo says:

    My colleague pulled a template IRS 1098 document here http://goo.gl/gt0RNa

  41. sonynehra says:

    Thank you for sharing your stories and Donation.Really good post.

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