Ray’s Donation Story

Posted July 2nd, 2012 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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Ray donated bone marrow to his son Morgan in 2010Ten years after Ray’s brother, Dwight donated peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), Ray was also given the extraordinary opportunity to save a life—but this time for his own son.

The diagnosis and treatment plan

Ray’s son, Morgan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells, in 2008 at the age of 12 years old. Immediately after he was diagnosed, Morgan was sent to Denver to begin his aggressive treatment.

The approach to Morgan’s treatment was to kill the diseased blood cells at the different stages of development. The first stage, induction chemotherapy was intended to bring Morgan into remission. The second stage, consolidation was a second phase of chemotherapy intended to reduce the number of diseased cells in the body. The third and final stage, maintenance was intended to destroy any remaining diseased cells so that the leukemia was eliminated from Morgan’s body.

In 2010, Morgan relapsed. “We were told that Morgan would need a bone marrow transplant,” said Ray. “Those were doors we never wanted to have to go through.” And so began Morgan’s search for a match.

The slim chance of a related donor

When patients first begin their search for a donor, they look for a match within their immediate family. In most cases, 70% of patients do not have a suitable match in their family.

In his family, Morgan’s best chance for a match was with his brother—a 25% chance. When the results came back that his brother was not a match, Morgan’s parents got tested. Parents, because they only provide half of a child’s DNA have a slim 5% chance of being a match. Luckily, Ray was determined to be a match, and after further confirmatory blood testing, it was decided—Ray would donate bone marrow to Morgan.

“I was excited,” said Ray. “I am a full time firefighter and I’m used to fixing things, but at that moment I knew I could help save my son’s life.”

Donation day — The day that would change their lives

“The day of the transplant was like a wedding or a college graduation—it was a big day,” said Ray. The bone marrow donation itself was fairly uneventful for Ray.  He felt a little discomfort from the intubation (insertion of a tube to help the patient breath while under general anesthesia), but it was minimal. Two days after his donation, Ray tried to climb up a flight of stairs and felt a lack of energy. However, after a week or two Ray was back to his old self. Doctors typically suggest that bone marrow donors take it easy the week following donation, because they might feel more tired as well as some slight lower back pain.

Rare connection between brothers

“It’s a unique and unusual bond that we have,” said Ray about his bond with his brother, Dwight, a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donor. “A rare circumstance that we can both claim that we are marrow donors, that we were able to make such a significant difference in someone’s life.”

Editor’s Note:
Ray’s son, Morgan is currently in remission and just completed his 2 year checkup. Their family should receive his test results in about five months.

Click here to read Ray’s brother, Dwight’s donation story.

3 Responses to “Ray’s Donation Story”

  1. Stephanie Madrid says:

    I was very touched by your story. I too was a bone marrow donor for my son. I’m so happy to hear that your son is in remission and I pray that he have a long and full life. I lost my son 12/24/2004and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and I thank Our Lord for blessing me with him for 20 years. Good Luck to you and Thank You for sharing.

  2. Alex SHackelford says:

    Im very amazed by both of your stories. My heart goes out to all of you. In 2002 my dad had a bone marrow transplant and made it through the hard part, but ended up dying 01/03/2003. It was a small complication of a blood clot to the lung, he was at Stanford hospital. Again my heart goes out to you guysevery day I try to live life for both me and my dad.
    Sacramento, CA

  3. Steve Posegate says:

    Way to go, Ray! This is inspiring. I have been a regular blood donor since my brother Dave’s successful bone marrow transplant in 1994.

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