Majewski and her husband first volunteered as donors 10 years ago, when a friend asked them to help a family member with leukemia. They underwent initial blood tests, known as hla typing, for a series of four genetically determined traits that, along with two more traits tested at a second level, must closely match those of the patient for a transplant to be accepted by the body. Neither Teri Majewski nor her husband matched, but they let the American Bone Marrow Donor Registry keep their records.
Ten years passed, and then the Majewskis got a call saying Teri was a match for a desperately ill patient overseas. Teri had been hoping to become pregnant again, but expectant mothers cannot donate bone marrow. She decided to postpone the pregnancy in order to help, even though it would be months before the patient would be ready for the transplant. Majewski insists it was not hard to make up her mind. “There’s no choice,” she says. “You’re talking about saving somebody’s life. There is no decision.” Similarly, Majewski will not acknowledge that hers is a heroic act; it is simply the right thing to do. She says she is not scared. Her suffering will be nothing compared with that of the patient, she insists. “And I’ll regenerate the marrow without a problem.” If bone-marrow cells could transmit their owner’s grit and determination, the person who gets Majewski’s would have it made.
CAPTAIN DANIEL “MAGIC” LEE
Daniel Lee is a 27th Fighter Squadron pilot and always donated blood. Several years ago he checked a box on the blood donor sheet that he would register with the National Marrow Donor Program. In 2006, Captain Lee received a call that he was matched with a 27 year old man with Acute Lymphoblast Leukemia (ALL). ALL is a “fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that the body uses to fight infections. In ALL, the bone marrow makes lots of unformed cells called blasts that normally would develop into lymphocytes. However, the blasts are abnormal. They do not develop and cannot fight infections. The number of abnormal cells – or leukemia cells – grows quickly. They crowd out the normal red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets the body needs. When a patient is diagnosed with ALL, he or she may have 100 billion leukemia cells. If chemotherapy destroys at least 99 percent of these cells, the patient is in remission. However, that could still leave 100 million leukemia cells in the body. If these cells aren’t destroyed, they could grow and multiply and cause a relapse of the disease” (A)
At this stage of the cancer, the patient would receive a bone marrow transfusion.
For the rest of the patient’s life, he/she would then produce the donor’s DNA. The current statistic of bone marrow match up in the DOD program is 1/10,000.
Lee’s family and friends supported his decision 100%. His wife, Rebecca is very proud of her husband. They currently have a 3-year old son Benton, and a 15 month-old daughter Catherine. Lee was in recuperation for a month – the usual time frame it takes for full recovery. The DOD program had paid for the donor’s arrangements to donate and have been tracking his recovery. Lee says while he can’t fly his planes during bed rest, it was a “small sacrifice to make for someone to survive.
From the US Federal News, author Vic Johnson
When Alison Carter was at the University of York, she picked up a leaflet about joining the British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR). She decided to get tested first to see if she was qualified. In August 2006, the blood testing center said she was a potential donor. From then, Alison agreed to have around 16 vials of blood taken for various tissue match tests. Then fourteen weeks later, Alison received a phone call to say that there was a woman in Sweden that was a perfect match. Alison’s match required peripheral marrow, so on January 6, 2007, Alison began a series of injections at home and at her work in Cunthorpe to prepare her body for the donation. After three days of this procedure,
Alison stayed overnight at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield to began removing bone marrow. She was connected to a machine that took blood from one of her arms and circulated the blood back into her other arm. The machine takes out what is necessary for the receiver. Alison was hooked up to this machine for four hours, after which she was sent to a hotel to eat and rest. Later that afternoon, she returned to the hospital for another injection so she could prepare for the same procedure the following Thursday morning. After the entire procedure was completed, Alison had been hooked up to the machine for over 8 hours. A courier immediately took the bone marrow and plasma to the airport for delivery to the recipient.
Alison never saw the woman she saved, but she was still willing to go through the long procedures. No compensation. She was completely healthy too.
(2007) Distance no hurdle when you are donor. Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph Volume, 2 DOI:
THE NICOLAS EFFECT
A seven year-old boy from California, Nicholas Green, was killed by highway robbers in 1994 while vacationing in Italy with his family. His parents agreed to donate his organs and corneas, which went to seven Italians waiting for transplants. Reg and Maggie Green spoke openly to the media, with no bitterness, about their loss and decision. The world took the story–and the Greens–to its heart. Organ donations in Italy have tripled since Nicholas was killed so that thousands of people are alive who would have died.
This incident sent an electric charge through the human spirit when his parents donated his organs. It is known around the world as “The Nicholas Effect” and thousands of people who would have died are alive today because of it.
The Nicholas Green Foundation, set up by the Green family, is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the cause of organ and tissue donation around the world. The foundation raises awareness of the shortage of donors around the world and also sheds light on a broad range of children’s causes.