My Donation Story: How a Magic Show Changed My Life

Posted December 9th, 2015 by Be The Match and filed in News
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Natalie EricksonI never planned on becoming a marrow donor. The whole concept honestly freaked me out, which is why when Be The Match visited my campus to recruit volunteers, I avoided the booth at all costs. Little did I know that a week or two later, my life would be affected in more than one way from watching The Maze  (an illusionist show starring Jim Munroe that includes Be The Match) with my friends. Ever since I was little, illusionists and magicians have always amazed me. I even had a phase where everything Criss Angel did made me in awe of his abilities. Obviously, the impression hasn’t completely faded.

The beginning of Jim Munroe’s act was phenomenal, and my mind was blown on numerous occasions. At the same time, since I knew Cru, a Christian organization at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (UWSP), was organizing The Maze, I was curious to see how Jim Munroe would implement his beliefs into the performance. His story about his battle with leukemia almost brought tears to my eyes, especially when he showed the video of his first meeting with his marrow donor. It was hard to believe his donor was only 19 at the time. After the show, Be The Match coordinators gave us more information about donating and allowed us to sign up to be a donor right then and there. Like the week before, I was still hesitant to sign up. My decision changed though once I learned more about one of the methods of donating marrow. During the procedure of donating bone marrow – which involves removing the marrow directly from your hip – you’re put under anesthesia. I honestly don’t know what kind of person that makes me if I am only willing to allow a needle to be inserted into my bone when I am knocked out, but I went with my decision.

A few of my friends also signed up that night, and we were all talking about how slim the chances were that any of us would be chosen to donate sometime soon. I had no idea how wrong we were. To give you a rough timeline, Jim Munroe came to UWSP in early spring. A few months later, my mom called me, asking if I had signed up to be a marrow donor. Apparently something was sent in the mail to my house saying I was a possible match for someone. *Cue explosion sound* my mind was kind of blown. I had barely been on the registry and already received a call, as preliminary as it was. I thanked my mom for letting me know and then called Be The Match to give them the information they needed. Excitement and nerves coursed through me as I wondered if I would be contacted again. My answer came a few weeks later once I was on break from school.

I had just started a run when my phone started ringing. Since I didn’t recognize the number, I almost let it go straight to voicemail, but decided to answer instead. The man on the other end turned out to be a Be The Match coordinator named Arthur, who informed me that I was a closer match and they would like some blood samples. I think I surprised him with my response of “Seriously?! That’s awesome!”, rather than a nervous “Oh, wow, um okay, sure” he may have been expecting. He then proceeded to ask me an insane amount of thorough medical questions and we started to figure out when I could have my blood drawn. My mom is a medical technologist, so she’s trained in drawing blood. Once Arthur heard this, he said she could draw it and we could send the kit back straight from our house. A few days later, we did just that, and the waiting began again.

One day about a month later, I was getting ready to go to work from my grandparents’ house when I saw a number on my phone that I now recognized. It was Arthur, and he had surprising news. I was the match. Immediately I started jumping up and down around my grandparents’ living room and couldn’t get the smile off of my face. My grandpa and cousins were trying to figure out what I was so excited about. Arthur continued to ask me more questions and ensure I was still willing to donate. He informed me that my case was a special one, as I wouldn’t be needed for several more months. Usually secondary donors are put on hold, but this time I, as the primary donor, was as well. He then recounted a few testimonies from recent donors about the length and extent of pain during recovery, which meant a lot. I hung up feeling ecstatic and couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the night.

As of now, the only thing I know about the patient I will be donating to is that he’s around my same age. That really hit home. My parents and I are both excited and nervous for my donation. My friends and other family members have also been incredibly supportive, which has helped tremendously. I believe that everything happens for a reason. If Jim Munroe had never come to UWSP, I never would have signed up to join the registry – and the kid I am donating to could still be looking for a match. If he is willing, I hope to meet him in the year following the procedure, so I can thank him for changing my life for the better. To think it was all because I decided to see a magician on campus.


17 Responses to “My Donation Story: How a Magic Show Changed My Life”

  1. Coop says:

    Good for you for facing your fears and giving so much of yourself. Thanks for sharing your story, and your marrow!

  2. prem says:

    so proud of you and you are so blessed and going to be blessed even more for helping someone else.
    I ve been on the registry for years and pray that one day I will be able to help someone too.
    Have a wonderful holiday.

  3. Kelly says:

    God bless you. Our family has suffed loss from this horrible disease but more recently a success story due in part to a donor like yourself. You can’t possibly know (but I hope you will soon!) how much you are appreciated and what a difference you have made in the lives of so many. I too hope that I will get the call to donate myself. Thank you for sharing and hopefully inspiring others to be the match.

  4. Wes says:

    I used to be roommates with Jim and still keep in touch via Facebook. He posted your story several months ago and it inspired me to register as well, so keep sharing & inspiring others!

  5. Phil says:

    Hope that you get the opportunity to help save someone’s life. Congratulations on your courage to sign up and volunteer for this procedure. I’ve been in the system for about 20 years and have not been a match yet. For those reading this, there is a way for you to help cancer patients indirectly and that is by donating blood. I’m O- and donate blood every 8-10 weeks. This is a easy way for those of us who have been blessed with good health to pay it forward. May God continue to bless you and help to cure those in need.

    • Paul says:

      Phil don’t give up. I’ve been on for 21 years and can only stay on it for 2 more, but I was just recently contacted as a possible match. You never know but also the blood donations is a great option as well. Good luck to you.

    • Susan says:

      I was on the registry for 17 years before I donated. Not everyone is a match. It is all about timing. But just your WILLINGNESS is also a gift and a sign of hope for those who need it. So thank you. I’ve sren thst look of despair on the faces of family members, when there isn’t a match, or worse, when a donor backs out. Fear of donation is HUGE. There is a lot of misinformation about the process out there. You could help by educating or assisting with drives to obtain more people for the registry. Your regular blood donations, may also be helping an oncology patient, as well as numerous others to LIVE. Blood is the gift of LIFE no matter what the situation. So don’t feel badly. There are many ways to help!

      • Jennifer says:

        Just to add to possible donations while you wait for a match…I donated the cord blood for both of my children at their births and my hair in their honor (to Children with Hair Loss). I call it their first act of charity. There are many ways to donate your time and treasure. Bless you all!

  6. Stephanie says:

    My little boy was only 3 when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He endured over 3 years of chemotherapy. I had never given joining the registry a thought before those four words changed our lives forever, “Your son has cancer.” He is eleven now, and though he did not require a bone marrow transplant, I thank God every day for people like you who are willing to give the gift of life should he ever need it. I hope that someday I will get that call to be a donor too. Thank you for your willingness to do what you are going to do. There aren’t words from parents like me to tell you how grateful we are for that gift! Blessings, A Thankful Cancer Mom

  7. Cheryl says:

    I am so happy for you! And the person you will be helping! I really hope that someday I will be a match. I’ve been waiting for the call for about a decade.

  8. Cheryl says:

    What a wonderful story! I have been on the donor list for 20 years. I was called a short time after I joined but it turned out that I was not a good match. Ever since I’ve been waiting for calls like yours. Helping others helps to give life meaning and a sense of purpose. In the meantime I donate blood platelets. I was even able make a special donation to a specific patient who was battling an infection while also battling cancer. I hope to be in your excited shoes someday! Thanks for sharing your story and encouraging others to be heroes too!

  9. Daine Fagan says:

    Well done! I have been on the list since 1988, when I took my little 2 year old girl with me to a donation tesing site-at the time, the donor-to-be had to pay for the process! I came close to donating just once, like some of the others. I will soon age out of being able to be a donor, but if they call tomorrow, like you, I’ll be ready! By the way, that little 2 year old girl is now a veterinary oncologist.

  10. Barb B says:

    I too was sent a letter saying I was a possible donor and was very surprised as it was over 10 years ago that I signed up! I called and was quizzed about my medical background and told that I would probably hear back from them in a month or so. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the closest match, so didn’t get to donate. I certainly will though, if I can help save someone’s life. How could you NOT? I hope your donation goes wonderfully and the person you donate to has a long life afterwards!!

  11. Maria says:

    How exciting for you! I too have been on the list for over 20 years and never been called. This last year my husband needed a transplant and because of a selfless person like you, he is alive and well and disease free and back to doing all the things he loves with our family. This Weds. We celebrate his first Re-birthday and I know his birthday wish is to meet his Donor! Hoping everything goes well for you and you one day get to hug your recipient.

  12. Marco says:

    I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and stories. This is truly amazing to read and be a part of. Best wishes and Merry Christmas to all.

  13. Madison says:

    I went to the same show at the University of North Dakota which inspired me to join Be the Match. I just donated in May!

  14. Zdenka says:

    What a great story. Thank you for sharing and hopefully inspiring others.

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