Marrow donation leads to 20-year friendship: Lisa’s donor story

Posted November 8th, 2011 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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The first time I talked to my transplant recipient, Pam, we were on the phone for two or three hours. I know many marrow donors don’t ever get to know their recipients, so I feel lucky. From that very first phone call, it was like we were old friends who just hadn’t talked for a few years. There was never a pause or time we had to think of something to say.

Pam and her marrow donor LisaEvery time I think about it, even 20 years later, I still get emotional. When you get married and decide to have a family, you know that’s what you’re setting out to do, to create a life. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought I would save someone’s life.

Why I joined
Back in 1990 when I joined the marrow registry, there were only about 20,000 people on the registry. I joined because there was a girl I worked with, maybe 16 years old, whose mother needed a donor. The community I lived in had a blood drive and I was tested there. Of course, I didn’t match that woman, but I was added to the registry.

A match!
A few months later I was called to do additional testing for a young boy in need of transplant, but I didn’t turn out to be the best match. I was called as a possible match for Pam just five months after I joined.

I was pretty excited about being a match. I remember telling everyone I worked with. My parents lived out of state at the time. I called them and was all excited. My dad said he wasn’t sure he wanted me to donate, but my husband was very supportive and the people I worked with were very supportive.

Someone I worked with asked how much I was getting paid to do this and was surprised to learn I was not getting paid. I said the benefit of donating was that I could save somebody’s life. I would hope that somebody else would do it for me if someone in my family ever needed help. He said he’d never do something like this unless he was getting paid, and that really made me angry.

My donation experience was pretty easy. I was admitted to the hospital on a Thursday evening, because the doctors wanted me to get good rest. I had a daughter just ready to turn three, so I kept busy at home. They did the collection on Friday morning and kept me overnight, and I went home Saturday. I had my daughter’s birthday party on Sunday.
(Editor’s note: Today, most marrow donors are in the hospital only from early morning to late afternoon, though some hospitals routinely plan for an overnight stay. Donors who donate peripheral blood stem cells – the more common donation method – often donate at a blood center rather than a hospital and do not stay overnight.)

I didn’t go back to work until Wednesday.  I was a dental assistant, on my feet a lot, bending over patients, and I thought it would be hard. But I really felt ready to go back to work sooner. I’ve said I’d easily donate marrow again many times, but I wouldn’t go through the C-section I had to have my daughter ever again.

I would tell anyone with the chance to donate to go for it. There’s no other reward like it. Even if I hadn’t met Pam and we hadn’t stayed in contact, even just knowing she’d survived was all I would have needed. That would have been satisfaction enough for me, knowing what I’d done for someone else. I’m thrilled we’ve been able to become such good friends, but I certainly never expected it.

Read Lisa’s recipient Pam’s transplant story >

9 Responses to “Marrow donation leads to 20-year friendship: Lisa’s donor story”

  1. Paula Scott Molokai Girl Studio says:

    Wow. It is easier than I ever thought it would be. I’ve been on the donor list for quite some time-maybe since 1997. I’ve never been called and I do hope to be called someday.
    Thanks for sharing your personal donor experience.

  2. Ramona says:

    Wonderful story! I hope have the chance to donate someday and share the joy that you have!

    • Lisa Beck says:

      Romona, Thank you. I also hope you get the chance to donate someday. It truly is a great feeling. Lisa

      • Josimeire says:

        I want to bcemoe a bone marrow donor and am not able to do so only because I am 64 years old. I am extremely healthy and donated a kidney on 11/3/10 at UCLA. I want to do more to help others and my UCLA transplant coordinator suggested I bcemoe a bone marrow donor.However, when I contacted the National Bone Marrow Registry, I was denied an application MERELY BECAUSE I AM OVER 60. I’ve read your policy that states: You must be between the ages of 18 and 60 to join the Be The Match Registry. Age guidelines are not meant to discriminate. They are meant to protect the safety of the donor and provide the best possible outcome for the patient. ..The upper age limit is based on donor and patient considerations. There is a small increase in the risk of side effects from anesthesia in older donors. I am willing to take any risk to save someone’s life as I’ve proven when I donated a kidney. I want to be allowed to go through the testing and be judged solely on my health to donate not because of my age.

  3. Lisa Beck says:

    Paula it is even easier now than it was over20 years ago. I don’t think you even have to stay overnight. Thank you for staying on the donor list. It is a great thing. Lisa

  4. Linda Hurley says:

    You are so blessed to be able to give in that way. I so much want to be that kind of giver. I wonder why they don’t call. But don’t have any insurance or money to pay for donating. Do I have to have money> God Bless to you both and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

    • admin says:

      Hi Linda,
      Volunteer donors on Be The Match Registry never pay to donate. We reimburse travel costs and may reimburse other costs on a case-by-case basis. Thanks!

    • Lisa Beck says:

      Linda, I hope you had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year as well. I am sorry I did not get back to you sooner.

  5. Salford Accountants says:

    Well done Pam and Lisa,20 years anniversary of Pam’s transplant.

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