Friday, July 20, 2012

Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Update

I received a call from my BMT nurse and coordinator, she wanted to make sure I wanted to start down this path... because she found a couple of possible donors and before she requested the samples she wanted to make sure I was on board, because requesting samples for further testing costs money.  It will be 6-8 weeks before I know if we have a match or not.  Once we find a match, then I have to have my scans, meet with the doctor again, have to go through the chemo to wipe out my bone marrow cells and then have the transplant.  So I guess if they do find me a match in this go-around, we'll be looking at an October transplant.  A rough estimate anyway.

I have been asked if blood type matters... the answer if Yes, and No... for the best (or perfect) case scenario, yes they would like to find a bone marrow donor with the right HLA markers that also shares my same blood type.  BUT, they do use donors with different blood types.  What really matters are the HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) Markers.

Matching a patient

Q: How is a bone marrow match determined?
A: Doctors look for a donor who matches their patient's tissue type, specifically their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type. HLAs are proteins — or markers — found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses these markers to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not. The closer the match between the patient's HLA markers and yours, the better for the patient.

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What is really crazy is... if we do use a donor with a different blood type as me... MY blood type will CHANGE to the DONOR'S blood type!  How wild is that!

Q: How likely is it that I will match a patient and go on to donate?
A: On average, one in every 540 members of Be The Match Registry in the United States will go on to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) to a patient. Because of the vast variation in tissue types, we can't predict an individual registry member's chance of donating to a patient. If you have a relatively common tissue type, you might be one of many who could match a searching patient. If you have an uncommon tissue type, you may never match a patient, or you might be the only one out of more than 9.5 million registry members who can save a person's life. Every person who joins the registry gives patients more hope of finding the match they need. The most important thing you can do as a registry member is to stay informed and committed so that if you're selected as the best donor, you're ready to move forward.

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So finding a match is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Q: What happens if I match a patient?
A: More testing will be done to see if you are the best possible match for the patient. We may ask for another cheek swab or blood sample or we may be able to use a stored sample. Though almost all patient information is confidential, we can tell you the patient's age, gender and disease.
If the patient's doctor selects you as the best donor for the patient, we will schedule an information session so you can learn more about the donation process, risks and side effects. At that time, we can also tell you the type of donation the patient's doctor has requested — either bone marrow or cells collected from the blood, (PBSC) donation.

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Q: Who pays for the donation process?
A: Donors never pay for donating, and are never paid to donate.

All medical costs for the donation procedure are covered by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), which operates the Be The Match Registry, or by the patient's medical insurance, as are travel expenses and other non-medical costs. The only costs to the donor might be time taken off from work.

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Anonymous said...

I am praying for you

Michelle said...

Thank you, Rick.