I 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.