A Conversation for Bone Marrow Donors - a Personal Experience
Thought I might chip in my own experience
Biocorp Started conversation Oct 21, 2009
I used to donate platelets and got into bone marrow donation from there. Never expected the call, my dad's been on the register for many more years than I have and has never heard a peep.
We were called out to Newcastle for an initial interview about the process. They explained what I could expect, talked me through the process and made it perfectly clear that I was welcome to back out at any time. They also explained that while I could undergo the surgery or take gscf injections, they'd prefer the jabs. And I had no personal desire to go under the knife.
I recall taking a lot of blood tests and carrying them to the local post office in biohazard containers. That was surreal.
A few weeks later, a nurse arrived at our home (I'd requested a delay on getting the injections due to my final exams on the 4th year of my degree course coinciding) and told us about what she would be doing then issued the injection. Had a bit of a chat afterwards, took my blood pressure every day, things were fairly normal.
Gcsf is strange, if you go that way. There are a number of symptoms associated, particularly a bit of discomfort in your lower back. The nearest I can describe is getting the kind of headache and odd skin sensitivity you get with a mild dose of flu, but in the small of your back. Very odd. I also managed to develop insomnia after the injections, but I was told that this was a very rare thing.
The day before, I was sent to a hotel in Sheffield along with one guest of my choice and told to order anything I liked. Go out for meals, order room service, anything, so we both spent our time ordering movies to our rooms and eating exceptionally rich food and full breakfasts.
The extraction (they referred to it as harvesting, which was a little alarming) took place over 2 days, apparently they needed a large amount of stem cells. The process took around 3 hours and was almost identical to modern apheresis donation except I had a needle in my left arm and right hand. Felt slightly light headed after 3 hours and had a very odd tingling in my back, but it wasn't unpleasant at all. Apparently calcium eases some of the tingling, so there was a fair bit of free milk and fizzy calcium supplements (which were surprisingly tasty). The worst thing was having to sit doing next to nothing for 3 hours and having to have some assistance with going to the bathroom since my hands couldn't be moved which was... embarassing.
After the first extract, the symptoms of gcsf had completely gone, despite being given a top up jab.
It's maybe... 12 months, possibly 18 on, now, and following a number of requests for blood tests, I'm hoping to be able to get back to apheresis donation in December. I'm in contact with my recipient via the blood service and I've still got the plant that the blood service sent by way of thanks.
All considered, we probably cost them a fair amount of money.
I'd really recommend it if you get the chance. It's initially a bit intimidating but it's not a bad process at all. Just a little uncomfortable when you're sitting down.
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