Learning to Love a Stranger

Posted February 2nd, 2015 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
Show Content

BTM_AABMAM_300x186_AltonetSixteen years after joining the Be The Match Registry® as a freshman in college, Altonet, now 35, learned that she was a matching bone marrow donor for a 52-year-old woman with leukemia. Though she hadn’t thought about her role as a registry member for years, she knew she wanted to donate.“I felt it was a privilege and an honor to be able to give something that my body makes every day and be able to save a life,” Altonet said.

There are two methods of donation: Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC) and Marrow. PBSC donation is a nonsurgical procedure that takes place at a blood center or outpatient hospital unit. Marrow donation is a surgical outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital. Because Altonet donated marrow, she was given anesthesia and did not feel any pain throughout the procedure.

While she was sore for several days following the donation, she was able to go back to work within two days. Several months after her donation, Altonet learned that the recipient was doing well and was released from the hospital just months following the transplant.

Of her recipient, Altonet said, “the one thing she taught me was how to love a stranger. I don’t know her, but I love that she is able to endure through such a difficult time. I prayed for her more than I prayed for myself or anyone else in a long time.”

Lending Her Voice

Altonet has a compassionate heart and a passion for singing. In fact, she’s competed on three national talent shows — Star Search, American Idol and Showtime at the Apollo.

Now she is lending her voice to help others by encouraging more people — especially those from the African American community — to follow her lead by joining the Be The Match Registry and saying yes if called as a match for a patient.

Before going through the donation process, Altonet heard a lot of common myths about donation —that it is painful and dangerous. “I want people to know that each individual’s experience is uniquely theirs. Don’t listen to what you may have heard — speak with people who are able to give you correct information about the process. It’s a rewarding experience and if you are ever selected to donate bone marrow, you should definitely consider it.”

Like Altonet, you could be the cure for someone with a disease like sickle cell anemia or a blood cancer like leukemia by donating bone marrow. It only takes a few minutes to join the Be The Match Registry. If you match a patient, you could be the only one out of millions who can save that patient’s life. Learn more about donation.

15 Responses to “Learning to Love a Stranger”

  1. Sheri S. says:

    I got a call 15 yrs after I signed up. I’m waiting to see if I’m enough of a match or not. Hopefully I will be. I think it’s an honor to be able to impact someone’s life in such a positive way. It’s in the Lord’s hands now.

  2. Laura H says:

    I have been waiting for over 20 years. In the meantime, I can still donate blood!

  3. Kay T. says:

    I was informed that I might be a possible match for someone after being on the registry for over 20 years. I am waiting to hear back but am hoping I will be a match. It would be an incredible opportunity and honor to be able to help someone in this way. At 53, I’m older than the age range of the typical donor, but who knows what will happen?

    • Erlene says:

      Don’t be discouraged, I just donated at the age of 54 after being on the registry for 5.5 years. I hope you are a match. Donating and potentially saving the life of another is perhaps the most important thing one can do in life. You are right, it is an incredible opportunity and honor. Good luck, I hope you are a match.

  4. Julie Kramer says:

    I have been on the donor registry for over 20 years. Recently, my brother was diagnosed with leukemia. My four other siblings and I did not come close enough to be a donor for my brother, but they did find someone from Paris (we live in Minnesota) on the donor registry. He had his stem cell transplant yesterday. We cannot thank the donor enough for their commitment for such a worthy cause!

  5. Tamara says:

    I donated marrow almost 20 years ago and remain on the registry. You go through extensive testing to be sure you are a match and that you are healthy. You are assured that at any point you can change your mind and not donate; up to the time of the surgery. My donation gave someone hope and me a sense of fulfillment that cannot be put into words. There was no pain for me; only a bit of stiffness at the donation site. If you have this opportunity to donate I strongly encourage you to do so. You will receive a blessing for your gift!

  6. Alyssa says:

    I just got the call to donate today. I was on the registry for barely over a month when I was first contacted! I can’t believe I will actual go on to donate. It’s incredible to be able to contribute to a life like this.

    • Analia says:

      Amazing Alyssa! Same thing happened to me. I got called after only a month on the registry. My surgery was last September. I hope your testing goes well. Good luck and god bless for the amazing thing you’re doing.

  7. Valerie says:

    My son received a unrelated bone marrow transplant 1 year ago. He has been blessed with a wonderful Match. He has been fighting Leukemia since he was 13. He will be turning18 in a few months and will be able to graduate with his friends. His donor is a angle that has given my son a life, and very grateful parents.

  8. Melissa Young says:

    I have been on the registry for 17 yrs and never received a call. At the age of 59, I just received that call. I assumed I had aged out for a potential donor…..I am honored that I might be the match for someone.

  9. Donna says:

    I’ve been on the registry since 1992 and have never been called. I was, however, a match for a now former co-worker’s wife for a platelet donation, many years ago, which I gladly did. She had a rare blood disorder, I believe. She unfortunately did pass away a few years later but I’m grateful my platelet donation gave her a few more years of life.

  10. Catherine says:

    I have been on the registry for over 20 years and have not been contacted yet. I was thinking I’m getting too old at 55 but this gives me hope. I still donate blood.

  11. Laura says:

    I joined be the match when my brother was diagnosed with Hodgkins over 20 years ago – last year I got the call did the cheek swab was told I was a match but was never contacted again. I was very disappointed I couldn’t help and pray it’s because the intended recipient got well.
    I really hope I get that call again and can help save someone’s life. I give blood so I know I’m helping but donating to be the match would be such an awesome experience and one more thing to cross off my bucket list.

  12. Tom says:

    I joined when a news story went out about 3-year-old Harry Friner. Having a kid myself I could only think.. if it was my kid.. what would I want others to do.. so I got the swab and signed up. That was Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011. I did not get a call and thought nothing of it until I was called in Late July of 2011. My first day of vacation, I was told I could be a match. 1 week later I gave blood for a better match test and I was the Donor. I was 47 and my recipient was fighting AML. 3 weeks after the final match, my donation was done and off to Germany, and two days later I was on a flight for work.

    A donation is a glimmer of hope at the end of a long hard fight. Being on the registry, you may be the light for others. Good Luck!

Leave a Reply