Thursday, April 04, 2013

When a Match = Life

I see lots of ads for matching companies --, e-harmony, christian singles... 
They sell the dream of happiness for life by promising to find your compatible, perfect match.

Here is a way to help someone (like me) find a perfect match that saves life -- and there are no monthly membership fees:   Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Donation 

First Fact:
A bone marrow or stem cell donor is determined by HLA (Human Leucocyte Antigens), NOT blood type.

Why match the HLA?
HLAs are protein markers which sit on all our cells. The immune system recognizes them and therefore does not attack them as foreign or infection. 

When the donor and recipient have matching HLAs, the likelihood of stem cell rejection or the new stem cells attacking the host body (Graft vs. Host Disease) is decreased. 

The ultimate match is when the patient and donor share 10 out of 10 HLAs. Most transplant centers require a 10 out of 10 or 9 out of 10 match for a standard transplant.

"Haploid match" is when the patient and donor have half of the HLAs in common. Biological parents and children of the patient are haploid matches. 
These transplants can also be successful with special care to decrease risk of Graft Vs. Host Disease (GVHD).

Get more info here:  HLA Match education

HLA Match Priorities
The priorities for my HLA match are as follows:
1.  Full-match sibling  
2.  Full-match Unrelated Donor (10 out of 10)
3.  Partially-matched family member 
4.  Cord blood

All four of my siblings did the cheek swab test through, as I did.
It cost $175 each, yet we got the info quicker than waiting for the doctor referrals and insurance approvals.

There is a 25% chance that a biological sibling is a perfect match. With 4 siblings, we figured that we had a good chance. One brother and one sister are haploid (half) matches with me and full matches to each other; the other two are identical matches to each other.

The doctor said that my son, Alexander, would be a haploid-match with me, and his stem cells would be preferred to my siblings because of Alex's youth. 

They also prefer younger male donor to younger female donor, so Katrina is excluded if Alex is willing to help his mom. In light of his upcoming car repair bill, I think he can be persuaded (wink, wink... both kids asked if they could be donors when this first came up).

We are now in the process to search for a 10/10 Matched Unrelated Donor (aka MUD) through the National Marrow Donor Program

The process takes 2-3 months, and the doctor believes that we will find a donor.

If you are between 18 and 44 years of age and interested in being a Bone Marrow/Stem Cell donor, check out these options:

They both contribute to the national and international donor databases. 

In the circle of life, I'm reminded that we receive what we put out in the world. Donation of bone marrow/stem cells, blood, plasma, and organs are the ultimate Random Acts of Kindness. Give with love and know that your gifts are received by the patients (and their families) with love and immense gratitude.

peace & love,

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