Sunday, May 16, 2010

Swab the Other Cheek

Look what came in the mail!

This arrived just a few short days after signing up to be a bone marrow donor (read about it here!).  Inside there's information about joining the Bone Marrow Registry along with the tissue-typing kit.  Which is a fancy name for some big ole q-tips to swab the inside of your cheeks.

You use one of four cotton tipped applicators to swab each corner of the inside of your mouth (top and bottom of the left and right sides) for ten seconds.

Apply a sticker to each of the swabs and put it in the packet.

Then use the postage paid envelope to mail it back.

And we're done!  It only took us about five minutes to complete from start to finish - how easy is that?!

It will take about five to six weeks for them to process our samples and get us into the registry so they can start checking if we're matches for anyone.  A few weeks, months or even years from now we could be contacted if we are potential matches for a patient needing a marrow transplant.

Now I know what you're thinking: "Sure, signing up is super easy, but what if I'm chosen as a donor?"  Good news!  Bone marrow donation is a relatively simple outpatient procedure.  First a follow up sample is checked to confirm the match.  This sample is either another cheek swab or a simple blood sample.  If the match looks good you continue on with the process.  The gist of it is that you either get general or local anesthesia and a surgeon will make one to four very small incisions near your pelvic bone and then use a hollow needle to draw out some marrow.  You usually get to go home by the end of the day and should be feeling back to normal within a few days or weeks.  The most common side effects include lower back pain, fatigue and stiffness while walking.   It's a small price to pay for potentially saving a life, in my opinion.  And for the sake of full disclosure, I am super not a fan of needles and the like (oh the stories my mom can tell of taking me to the doctor as a child); so if I can buck up and sign up so can you!

So go check out and see if joining the registry is for you and tell me about your experience!

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