There are many ways on how you can be able to save a life of someone who deserves it. It can be something like performing a cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It can even be as simple as applying pressure to someone’s open and bleeding wound. But really, the point is this: you do not have to be a hero to perform all of these things. All you need do is to act.
However, with the recent spate of more severe and dangerous diseases which have been coming out over the years, you do not need to wait for an accident to happen for you to act quickly. Now, all you have to do is to troop to your local health center or rescue area and donate something which you can call as truly yours. It can be your blood, but sometimes, it can take much more than that. For serious disorders like cancer or specific ones like leukemia, it is much more helpful if a bone marrow is donated to these people who need it the most.
Let us face the facts - although surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy have resulted in improved survival rates for those types of clients which have been mentioned above, many of their cancers that initially respond to therapy almost always recur. This is so much true of hematologic or blood disorders that affect their bone marrows too and solid tumor cancers that are treated with a lower dosage of antineoplastics or anti-cancer drugs t spare their bone marrow from larger and harsher doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Thus, the current role of bone marrow transplantation still continues to grow. And while it also means that you—the donor—will have to undergo the operation itself, at least you are doing it knowing full well that you have a chance to save a life in the process.
Image source – Adam, inc
Requirements for Bone Marrow Donors
There are several key steps before you can go on your merry way before becoming a full-pledged bone marrow donor. First, you have to makes sure that you have registered with a government or any official donor program in your locality. Generally, potential donors should have to be between the ages of 18 and 60. You should also be sure that you are really healthy and have an ideal body mass index (BMI) of 40; however, there are also no objective criteria to determine if one has the minimum appropriate BMI, so as long as you are not underweight, you will just be fine.
You must also answer thoroughly the health history questionnaire that has been given to you. If you have a medical history that the institution deems as questionable, then you are immediately excluded from the donor program. Remember, no matter how healthy you think you are, it is still a surgical risk for those involved in the upcoming treatment. Also, just like donating your blood, your tissue is also assessed for “typing” by swabbing the inside of your cheek.
Then, if you have now been chosen as a potential donor due to your client having the exact tissue match as yours, then the “real” medical examination will begin. Not only will you receive a thorough physical examination, but the test will also include x-rays, ECGs, and blood and urine tests. You will also have to be screened for some common infectious diseases.
Finally, this is the part where all of your hard work will pay off… at least, it will (hopefully) for your recipient. But since this is technically a “donor” program, your services for the upcoming procedure are completely voluntary, and you can change your mind anytime you want to—even on the day of the transplantation itself. Yes, it will make you look like a chicken for suddenly backing out, but that is still within your rights since it is your body that is involved in the procedure, after all.
Procedures for a Bone Marrow Donation & Transplant
Generally speaking, you are undergoing your bone marrow donation at about the same time the recipient is about to receive your “contribution”. If possible, you can also be at the same room with the recipient.
One advantage of an allogeneic bone marrow donor cell, which means that the tissue has been extracted from another source other than the client (that means you), is that the transplanted cells are not immunologically tolerant of a client’s malignancy. In other words, your tissue will basically cause a lethal “graft-versus-disease” effect in the malignant cells, which means that the “bad” cells will have a high chance of being killed just by attaching your tissue on the recipient’s body.
Before the procedure starts, both you and the recipient will have to undergo an extensive pre-transplantation evaluation to assess the current clinical status of your body. Nutritional assessments, extensive physical examination, organ function tests, and psychological evaluations are all conducted before the “big hour”.
Now that the time for “warm-ups” is done, it’s now time to proceed with the procedure. The type of bone marrow donation that is about to performed on your body is called as a “harvesting”; this is a traditional treatment which has been used since the 1970s, and is still considered as a relatively safe procedure. Large amounts of your bone marrow tissue will be extracted from your body while you are under the influence of a general anesthesia inside the operating room.
Risks & Side-Effects of Bone Marrow Donation
For the recipient, the potential complications for his or her treatment are just too numerous to mention: graft incompatibility, sepsis, hemorrhage… just about anything can happen in the following days and months after the procedure. For the potential donors like you, the problems can take the form of a more “psychological” bent. You may experience mood alterations, decreased self-esteem, and potential feelings of guilt if the bone marrow transplantation fails in the end. This is also the perfect time for your family to prop you up by supporting you in your times of anxiety and so to promote your coping during this difficult time.
Is there any Compensation for Bone Marrow Donation?
For sure, this can be a tricky thing to answer. Although there are numerous scientific research groups that offer some outright cash for some “volunteers” to act as donors for their bone marrow, it is still considered as a “gray area” for the whole of medical ethics. Some fear that dangling a compensatory good in front of the potential donors will just ruin the “integrity” of the national donor program that numerous governments have tried so hard to establish during the past few years. On the other hand, there are also some proponents that argue for the justification of compensation for potential bone marrow donors because—let us be honest for while here—barely anyone wants to devote his or her services totally for free. But these latter advocates state that instead of cash, alternative “incentives” can also be given in the form of a college scholarship, a housing allowance, or even a payment to the charity of your choice. Ultimately, it is your choice: be completely altruistic, or be practical. As long as you know that what you are doing is right, no one can judge you for your actions.