Donating marrow

While the donor or patient (for autologous transplant) is under general anesthesia, the doctor inserts a large needle into the bones of the hips and withdraws bone marrow. This procedure is repeated enough times (usually 50 to 150) to remove 10 to 15 cc of marrow per kilogram of patient weight. The entire process takes less than one hour. After marrow donation, some hospitals keep the donor overnight, while others discharge the same day if the donor is not in pain.

Because the amount of marrow that is removed contains less than 5 percent of the donors developing blood cells, it only takes a few days for the body to replace the marrow. The donor is usually sore for a day or two and may feel a bit tired for several days. The recovery time varies from donor to donor. The main risk of donating marrow is the risk from the anesthesia. However, in an otherwise healthy donor the risk of a severe complication is less than 1 in 1,000.

After no match was found for Christie in the 4,000 donors that we signed up and typed, I became her donor We were just a partial match. Being her donor was just wonderful. It was Mother's Day weekend, and I was just full of faith and love. I thought this is it, God has given me a second chance to give life to this child. I had a very powerful feeling that it was so special that I could do this for my daughter I really felt that this was it, it was going to work.

It was uncomfortable for a couple of days, and I was a little bruised. But the people there were wonderful, and they really followed me closely. I'm still on the registry; if someone called me tomorrow, I'd be on a plane. It's a very rewarding feeling, a gift from God.

Jody's 2-year-old brother Christoph was a perfect match. I stayed with him when he donated marrow, and my husband stayed with Jody. Christoph seemed to handle the marrow donation easily. Although he had some nausea in the recovery room, he was up and running around late that afternoon saying, "I the donor." He felt very proud. I knew he was somewhat sore because he said, "My diaper hurts."

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