On many occasions people have asked me 'how in the world I can take care of sick kids?' 'It seems cruel to stick them with needles and hold them down for procedures'. It generally doesn't bother me. (Yes, I would rather not do it if it can possibly be avoided, but I won't hesitate to do it when I know that's what needs to be done.) I would much rather hold kids down for an IV start than contemplate the possible outcomes if we didn't take the measures that we do. I know that the things I do will make them better. That's not always the case with our patients with cancer. The cancer kids tear me up inside. It's just not fair that someone so innocent should suffer so very much. And their poor families. Having a child with cancer can turn your world upside down and rip your heart out. That is why I am challenging everyone who is able, to join the national bone marrow registry. Take the chance to save a life.
Here's how it works:
- Go to BeTheMatch.org. You can either request a donor registration kit to be mailed to you, or you can locate a donor drive that is taking place in your area.
- If you are between the ages of 18-60 and are in general good health, you will probably qualify to donate. Go here to see more details about conditions that do and do not limit you from donating.
- Once you have filled out the appropriate paper work and have the donor kit in front of you, you will take the four cotton swaps and wipe them, one at a time, on the inside of your cheek. That's it! You're registered and the genetic material in your cheek cells will be analyzed and archived so that doctors from around the world can look for potential matches to help save their patients.
- If you are a match to someone in need there is no cost to you. One of two things will happen, depending on what your match needs. 1) You will receive a few injections (5 days in advance) of a medication that stimulates your body to make more blood stem cells. When it is time to donate your blood will be removed, the blood stem cells separated and your blood returned to you. No surgery required and most donations are done this way. 2) Your bone marrow will be removed from your hip bone with a needle, while you are under general anesthesia. It is an outpatient procedure and your body will replace the bone marrow that is removed.