Bone marrow donation

From Japan Today:

A record 28,364 people registered as bone marrow donors in 2004, due mainly to blockbuster movies released last year depicting characters dying of leukemia, the Japan Marrow Donor Program said Friday.

I was lucky. My brother Ben was a 6 out of 6 match for my bone marrow. AJ was a 4 out of 6.

Not everyone is going to have that great a selection.

I won’t kid you, it hurts to donate bone marrow. They drill into your pelvis and suck it out. I only went through a fraction of what Ben went through when I had my bone marrow biopsy. First there was an extraordinarily uncomfortable pressure on the bone, kind of a gritty feeling. But the vacuuming of the marrow was the worst part. It’s hard to describe how that feels. The closest I can come is that it’s like having your soul jerked from your body. I know that seems overdramatic, but what is more inner than your marrow, from which springs your lifeblood?

I had this procedure done a couple of times, each time with only one hole drilled. Ben had his marrow taken all at once, with far more taken out, and with multiple drillings. He was in so much pain that he was in tears, and Mom had to yell at the nurses to give him more morphine.

Ben was sore, unable to really move, for about a week afterwards. He sacrificed a lot to do that for me. But because of his suffering, I’m alive today.

It takes a very strong person to give bone marrow, in other words. It is, literally, the gift of life.

Here’s how you can donate, if you’re interested.