Have you ever considered being a bone marrow donor?

The Fincastle Herlad/Destiny Booze/May 2008
 
Crystal Shelor of Blue Ridge may have performed a miracle for a one-year-old boy in Germany. About two weeks ago, Shelor underwent an operation to extract her bone marrow to donate to the child in a procedure known as BMT or bone marrow transplantation. Overseas, one small boy may be cured of a deadly disease all because of Shelor’s gift of herself, and she has a message she wants to send about her experience. She wants to raise awareness about bone marrow donorship and encourage as many people as possible to contact the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and sign up for its registry. "They need more people," Shelor said.
 
Shelor has experienced several different occasions of exposure to this subject in her life. At age 10, she was misdiagnosed with leukemia, so her familiarity with the disease began young. In the mid 90’s, Shelor’s friend and former classmate, Patrick Saville was diagnosed with cancer. He needed a BMT, so Shelor signed up to donate blood. It was tested for tissue compatibility. She did not come back as a match. Tragically, her friend did not survive the disease. Still wanting to help, she requested her marrow be placed on the national registry.
 
Shock, excitement, maybe a bit of nervousness were Shelor’s feelings when she got the call last summer – fifteen years after her name was put onto the registry, the news came that she was a possible match for a child overseas. Would she donate, she was asked. "It’s a child. How could you say no?" Shelor said.
 
BMT is used to treat leukemia, lymphoma and other diseases. The process Shelor went through began with lab work, a full body physical and a thick stack of paperwork to complete. The actual procedure was done under anesthesia in an operating room in Wake Forest, NC. The marrow was removed from the pelvic (hip) bone. Shelor recalled some soreness in the area when she woke up. She was also shown her donation – two bags of what looked like blood. "I had some pain, but it was minimal compared to how he’s [the child’s] been doing," she said.
 
The hotel, mileage, food, and all healthcare expenses were all covered for Shelor to donate. All in all, it was a mild disruption to her life. Shelor went into the hospital on a Wednesday for pre-op, had the surgery Thursday and returned to work by the next Tuesday. Though she was given no information concerning the donee, she and the child will forevermore have a connection. "Something in him is a match to you," she says. "Hopefully, one day I’ll have a name or picture or both."
 
Her wishes for information about the child will be passed along through the marrow program. The process takes two years. It will be up to the child’s parents whether or not to make contact. Either way, Shelor has no doubts that she will donate again if asked. "It was very rewarding. I’ll always remain on it [the national registry]."
 
For more information or to sign up as a donor, call (888) 298-6375 or visit www.marrow.org.
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Published in: on March 4, 2009 at 3:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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