How I Became a Donor

my brother was diagnosed several years ago of having a rare cancer, 5 people in a million get it! and unfortunately it was my brother. This cancer has never been cured, and normally would affect only elderly people over 60 . My brother was in his early forty's. After a year of chemo and following deterioration in his health he was asked if he had siblings for them to come forward in order to see if any of us were a match. There were four siblings but unfortunately one had died on a motorbike and one had died due to drug addiction. That left just myself and my sister. Myself and my brother also have a mutatiion on our blood hemaglobin and are of mixed race. So the chances of him finding a donor matching all these requiremnets was close to none!. Luckily i was 100% match. The treatment started soon after. This involved having blood tests first to ensure i was healthy enough myself to be a donor. I had to have h.i.v tests, hepatitis tests and several other tests on my blood which i forget now. i was all clear and treatment started immediately after this. I had to inject myself in the stomache each day with the relevant drugs after 5 days i was called to hospital where they did checks to make sure the treatment had done what was required. I was then connected up to a large machine. I had needles in both arms attached to my main artery which meant i could not move for the period i was attached to the machine. one arm was taped to the bed to restrict movement as your artery is open during this procedure. I was warned that the treatment did remove calcium from your blood and that if i felt giddy or experienced any tingleing to notify a nurse, this did happen and i was swiftly given calcium tablets to suck on which solved the problem. My blood was then drained and pumped around this machine which seperated the necessary components and the rest was returned to me via my other arm so it went out of one then back in the other...like a ring basically. I was attached to the machine for a period up to 8 hours. I decided not to eat or drink as if i had and needed to use the toilet i would have had to be disconnected and all fresh pipes etc attached. I grinned and bared it, which is hardly heroic as my sibling needed me to be strong. This went on for a period of 6 days but this would depend on the amount of cells your donor needed dependant on their body weight. My brother is a big old lump...lol so i had to give quite a bit. I did tell him to lose weight but i think that was the least of his problems. Two years down the line now and he has been finally given the all clear. He has perked up tremendously and we are hoping that he will be the first person cured of this cancer. I hope other people will see the benefits of becoming a donor and take the relevant steps.

that is my story.

thehippy thehippy
41-45, F
16 Responses Feb 26, 2009

sistersforever sorry to hear about your sister i wish her the best. Dont you worry i didnt have the aches for long..to be honest now i dont remember that bit at all. Its only temporary is what im trying to say. Your sister is lucky to have you and i know that you will find the courage to do what you got to do. Dont panic i think sometimes too much information is too much information. Before i donated i did read a little about the procedure but to be real honest...it was like a foreign language to me so i thought let me just get on with it and the less i know about the procedure the better ( i dont like the sight of blood at the best of times!!!). But this is one of those occassions when you put a brave face on and just get on with it. You will be proud of yourself when you do. best of luck. xxx

I am 33 and my sister is 36 with Hodgkins Lymphoma. This is the third reoccurance. She has already had one stem cell transplant from harvesting he own cells over 2 years ago. <br />
Now I will be donating my cells in 1 month from now, as I have been determined to be a perfect match out of 3 sisters. I am very nervous as well as they have still not decided if we will be doing a bone marrow transplant or apheresis. As each of you have said it is important to remember the selfless act of helping the family you love, not just the patient. Your site was encouraging and I hope all of you the best with you loved ones. I worry about the hip and back pain as for years I have already suffered from chronic hip and back pain since child birth and am treated regularly for it. I have been told the process should not have any additional long term affects on me, but I still worry. I realize these are small issues compared to what my sister has gone through for the past 5 years as well. Pray for us both, that this is the end of these struggles for our family :-)

wow meguildford thats brilliuant you are brilliant and i wish your brother the best of luck, he stands to win with a brother like you xxxxx

I was 61 when I donated for my brother just over 12 months ago - he was 57, and 14 months post-transplant he is doing really well! I found the 'surges' from the filgrastim injections seemed to go right up to the back of my skull, although they said they had never heard of that before! However I managed the aches with paracetamol, although it is the strangest sensation when it happens! It took me a good month to get me energy back - I put that down to my age! I feel very in awe of the fact that he is doing so well and I played a major part in it. They said the bone marrow register was not an option for him, nd of his 4 siblings I was the only match.<br />
Pensioner!

whatdoyousay well said. i agree with all you have said. I will add that any pain you feel is short lived. it doesnt last for long and its not real pain more an unusual feeling but no real pain. At least thats what i found. I think another thing that made me so humble about what i was doing for my brother was when i sat there in the cancer ward and watched some of the very ill patients coming and going having treatment. I heard that some of their siblings had refused to come forward and that ached my heart more than any of the stuff i was going through. They were suffering and could see no end, but our siblings have hope and they are getting that from us. Its so important in this battle to keep mentally strong too and when you have family that are willing to rise to the challenge and show how precious you are to them by doing waht is neccessary to keep them alive it gives them strength too to keep on fighting.

hi chiaron im over forty. Best of luck to you, its not hard. the shots were a bit daunting for me the first time round as i chose to administer them myself, but after i realised that i was shaking so much when i was doing them myself due to fear!!!.. i decided to ask a nurse to do it instead, which they can do if you so request this. There was no pain involved really. Just the fear of the injection for me, which was mental not physical. But there was a way round this so i took that option the second time around. <br />
I got around any fears i had by remembering my brothers life depended on me and that what i was going through was nothing compared to what he was going through and that solved any real fears i had. Keep positive dont worry and you'll get through it and hopefully things will go to plan and you will have done something so precious and so unselfish that the reward you get personally is the feeling of doing something real and deep rooted in the name of humanity. best of luck i really hope that brother gets through this

Hi chiaron119, <br />
I donated to my sister in January and it wasn't so bad. The hospital, MD Anderson admitted me as an outpatient and you are treated as a patient and are informed of everything you will experience. I felt really tired and a little achy, kind of flu-like, but not even that bad. After giving yourself the shots, I gave myself 2 a day, really easy(little needles), or they can give them to you. You do feel pain in your hips, and I also felt weird pain in my ribcage, none of it was all too bad. The only time I needed pain medication was during the donation process, I got a really bad headache, 1 darvon later all was fine again. The hardest part is the no moving around while they harvest, but you feel really strange and tired so it's not so bad. I was at MDA(outpatient) for 2 weeks because of a Monday holiday. I was drained after, but within a month I felt back to normal(I was out and about in 3 days, but still tired.) I turned 40 a few days after my sister received the transplant, we were hoping to share a birthday!!! We will still celebrate together though. I am so happy to say that she is still cancer free almost 10 months later, and is totally back to normal!!!! And if you've had kids, I've had 2, the pain of this is nothing, I promise. It will all be worth it when your brother is well! The before is so frightening, the unknown.... I think about when my sister was first diagnosed a few years ago at 31, and I could not imagine the future. They are really frightening, dark days indeed, but there is hope that this can end well. I wish you the best, and am happy to answer any questions you may have. I had a hard time finding donor stories, and was also very nervous about the whole process. Take care!

your story will be my story in the middle of the month. Can I ask you. The center of course has to dis close ever thing that I might experience. The shots that I administer to myself makes me very anxious. But what I'm really more concerned with is the pain level. I was told with each hormone shot that the I should expect the pain to become more intense. Specially it attacks the bones in hip and back. Did you find this to be true. My brother is also early 40 .s I have four other brothers and the sis was his exact match. What would men do without us. LOL. Thanks. I am expecting my brother as your great as yours. Thanks for posting. Can I ask how old your are

Whatdoyousay im sorry to hear your sister has cancer but happy that she has found a donor in you. You sound like your up for the fight and i hope you both win, its a tough old journey prepare yourself for a bumpy ride but these things can be cured. xx best of luck to you both

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I will be my sister's donor once she finishes her 10 weeks of chemo. She had non-hodgkins, and now hodgkins. She was going to get her own stem cells, but they just found cancer in her bones. I am a perfect match as well. So, we will be shaking things up at her treatment center. <br />
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I have not read many donor journals, and was glad to find yours. I hope your brother is well, and am expecting my sister to be the amazing, and inspiring fighter she always has been. <br />
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Much thanks!!

results still not back but the hospital gave my brother some steroids at his last visit, he has now been told following a blood test that he now has diabetes, his damned if he does and damned if he doesnt. I wonder is this usual, does anyone know?

we are having a few problems at the moment but wont know the results for another week and a bit. Fingers crossed

Wow, you're truly a hero! I would do the same for my brother if needed. I hope he continues to be cancer free!

http://www.bmdw.org/index.php?id=become_donor<br />
<br />
here's a link on how to become a donor

my brothers cancer is waldenstroms macroglobulanemia its a non hodgkins cancer. Best of luck to your daughter hope she makes a full recovery. Best of luck to you all. <br />
with regard to 2quirkys comments no its not just from embryos. The procedure i had was to encourage my stem cells into my blood stream, they are ever present i believe!. But yes they are also taken from the umbilical chord although im not too up on this form.

Forgive me---I'm not too educated about this, but I thought stem cells only came from embryos??? No??? Then why the big to-do over stem cell research??? I'd gladly give some! Peace & health to you both & your loved ones.