Help Wanted. Inquire Within.

November 25 2013


Now then, let’s get down to it.

I donated bone marrow last spring to a stranger who has since passed away. I do not know the name, location, or the details of when this individual died and I’m not quite sure how to deal with my grief over this. Maybe y’all can be of some help.

It was a few summers ago that I found myself sticking a Q-tip in my mouth and rubbing it along the inside of my cheeks. A little cottonmouth and an odd taste was the result, and it was altogether not an entirely unpleasant experience. Though, it did feel odd to send it off in an envelope to be scrutinized instead of examining it under a microscope myself, as if it was some Freshman Bio lab exercise. Twice, I was identified as a potential match for someone needing to undergo a marrow transplant, and twice I was subjected to an intense phone interview followed by the resulting disappointment when my bones were not, in fact, the closest match.

It’s worth noting that none of my relatives had contracted a disease necessitating the donation of marrow or organs, not even a fecal transplant. So maybe my thinking was that I could be a hero for someone, a nameless person that swoops in and pulls you from the train tracks where you’ve fallen inexplicably or that stops a mugging. I could be Batman, except instead of fantastic wealth, hand-to-hand fighting chops, and gadgets to rival Q’s collection; I had exceedingly effective bone marrow.

Prior to my move from the East Coast to my current residence on the West, I got my third call alerting me to my potential match. After undergoing a blood test and a medical screening, I was cleared to donate. Those of you that are into travelling, look into donating if only for the free sightseeing. You probably won’t get the chance to take in many sights, but you’ll at least collect some frequent flier miles.

The hotel I was staying at, located adjacent to the hospital, used a golf-cart to ferry me back and forth. Surrounded by geriatrics getting hips, knees, and sundry joints replaced, I felt particularly healthy prior to having multiple liters of blood and marrow taken out of my body. I came to commiserate with the elderly when I was shuffling laps in the halls outside my room after the procedure.

It was a few months ago that I heard that my marrow recipient died. My contact with the registry took great pains to emphasize that it wasn’t my fault. I know that I did everything I could, but why is it that I still don’t feel like I did? For the length of time from my recipient’s “second birthday” to their eventual death, they had my blood (A+ in case you were wondering) and it still wasn’t enough. He was the closest I’d ever get to a brother by blood.

Hopefully telling this story to 25,000 perfect strangers will help me deal with this grief for the loss of someone I’d never met, never known the name of, and will never speak with.

Donating bone marrow is an incredibly simple procedure with no lasting consequences for the donor. Check out the Be the Match Registry or another registry if you’re willing. Feel free to email me if I could elucidate the process for you and thanks for reading this all the way through.

TLDR: Blah blah marrow blah blah donate some.

Brian Alenduff
[email protected]
Northern CA

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