Submitted by an active IBEW 1245 member, whose name is being withheld to protect medical privacy
Game time. The day is finally here. The 4 days of Filgrastim injections have offered very little in the way of side effects. Some minor lower back pain was really the only issue that the Tylenol didn’t conquer. I arrive at UC Davis Medical Center at 7AM. The nurse had warned me of the two hours of yet more paperwork and blood testing that had to occur before the actual procedure could begin. At 8:55, I was officially ready and finally hooked up to an apheresis machine.
The apheresis machine is a medical miracle. It is used to harvest any number of components from a donor’s blood, or to separate substance(s) from a patient’s blood. In my case, my blood will run through the machine repeatedly, and stem cells will be harvested into a bag. The patient’s doctor has asked for 28 CCs. The machine runs at a specified speed, and the amount requested is based quite simply on the patient’s weight. In this case, an adult male is the recipient, so the process will take most of the day.
At 3:15PM, the bag of stem cells reached the 28 CCs that were requested. Other than having a very sore right arm (this is where the needle removing the blood from my body was located, so I couldn’t move that arm), I felt no pain. 6+ hours in a hospital bed wasn’t the most exciting way to spend a day, but the euphoria of seeing the product that would soon be on its way to the airport far outweighed both those minor drawbacks. A courier was scheduled to pick up the stem cells by 5:00PM, and headed directly to Sacramento Airport. The recipient would be fed the stem cells immediately upon their arrival through an IV. I was told that he had been given heavy doses of chemotherapy in preparation for my donation.
My wife drove me home from the hospital. I felt good physically, but apparently it was just the adrenaline that was keeping me going. After the 30 minute drive home, I was about as tired as I had ever been in my life. Usually a light sleeper, I slept a solid 10 hours that night. I woke up with no pain or side effects, and was able to go to work with no problems the entire day.
Some of the people I’ve shared my experience with are shocked to hear how easy it sounded. The method by which I donated is much more common today than the process by which a doctor extracts liquid marrow from a donor’s pelvic bone. Both methods are typically done with the donor being released the same day from the hospital. Be The Match lists the chance of ever being a match at 1 in 500. I consider myself very lucky.
Learn more and sign up at www.BeTheMatch.org