David Burge Updates

David Burge updates his journey with leukemia

On Bone Marrow Transplants

with 2 comments

A friend of mine, John, commented:

How do they go about finding one of those 11,000,000 potential donors? Is it something that one can “volunteer” for and then be “tested” for compatibility? Or do they have a database of donors and put the computers to work trying to find the “match” (like “dating” services do)? Just curious: but if the answer were right, I’d be happy to consider donating (if I was eligible).

Another friend, Jachin, answered in the comments:

John: I have spoken to the New Zealand bone marrow donation service so I will take the liberty of answering this question. Thank you for your willingness to help David.

In New Zealand people volunteer to go onto a database (a simple blood test is required) and then the international dating service goes into effect. When they find someone who matches you they’ll give you a call. Therefore by volunteering you may be able to serve and bless David or another person who has leukemia. David needs to have a transplant very soon so now is a good time to volunteer.

The most common donation procedure is quite simple. A series of injections are given over four days and then blood is taken from you. The injections cause your body to release the cells that a transplant recipient needs into your blood stream.

I believe that New Zealand may be only taking volunteers from minority groups at present. They will however add my sister to the international database. She was not a match for me but may still be able to help someone else in a situation similar to mine.

The American bone marrow registry is here, they are currently looking for people.

This news item from Canada explains the need for donors and why the need is likely to be even greater in the future:

“With couples in recent decades giving birth to fewer children, the chances of a leukemia patient having a brother or sister who matches their genetics will soon be less than half what it was just a few years ago, Ottawa-based researchers concluded.

The problem has contributed to a waiting list for bone-marrow transplants from non-family donors that has almost tripled in five years.

Half those in the queue never get a transplant, which pump in stem cells for treating certain cancers and other diseases.

Whatever the factors were that led to smaller families, it has impacted on our treatment options,” said Dr. David Allan, an Ottawa Hospital hematologist who headed the research.” (emphasis mine).

If I (Dave) can find a match, the bone marrow is frozen and transported to New Zealand. Once a match is found, I will begin the treatment to receive it.

For those interested in the more technical side  here is an article. I have ALL (4,11) which is in the high risk category.

David Ting, a Christian from Malaysia blogs through his Bone Marrow Transplant , Tarnya and I found this a most helpful guide to what the treatment will be like.

On Day 12 David Ting wrote:

“The pain is experienced only when I swallow something such as saliva, food and drink. If I don’t swallow anything, then I won’t experience any pain at all. With this throat problem, I should be able to count how much saliva that I swallow within an hour more accurately than you because each of my swallow equal to “one pain”. A healthy person will surely miss a lot of swallow count because he/she always swallow unconsciously – don’t even notice he/she is swallowing. God abundant grace is actually embracing our whole body – making it works wonderfully, but because so many actions that we perform are completed unconsciously, we becomes ignorance of God’s abundant grace upon our body. So, if you have nothing to thank God in your next prayer, thank Him for giving you a body that can swallow so well – so pain free, so smooth and so automatic!” (emphasis mine).

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Written by admin

December 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Posted in from David

2 Responses

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  1. I’ve rung the New Zealand bone marrow donor registry and they’ve confirmed that they’re only taking Maori, Pacific Islanders, and people from other minority groups. Such donors are desperately needed.

    The reason for this is cost. To test someone and put them on the donor registry costs NZ$400 (US$285). About 1 in 1,000 registered donors will actually make a donation, so a single donation is going to cost more than NZ$400,000 (US$285,000). Thus it’s cheaper to send staff overseas for a few days to collect the cells and bring them back to New Zealand.

    Most recipients in New Zealand receive cells donated in Germany, because the database there is so good. Once the cells are harvested they’re viable for 72 hours, and they fly in a chilly bin at the feet of the staff person (chilled, not frozen). The staffer carries cash (US$) and credit cards so he can deal with any emergencies that might delay him. The staffers are required to spend three nights in the country of donation so that they’re fresh for the journey home and able to deal with emergencies.

    The recipient is prepared for the transplant while the cells are on their way to New Zealand, and the cells are delivered to the hospital with two hours of landing.

    Now for my personal opinion:

    The general rule with any donation is that increasing the time that the donated tissue is outside a body decreases the transplant success rate.

    Cells donated for a bone marrow transplant may be viable for 72 hours, but surely having them donated in New Zealand would be better than having them flown half way around the world in a chilly bin. However, New Zealand has a socialist health system and we don’t get any say in the matter. A socialist health system has nothing to motivate it to give the best possible care, so the patients get whatever care the politicians and bureaucrats find it expedient to give. These people hold the power of life and death.

    1 Thess 5:18 says in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (NASB). I am thankful that the politicians and bureaucrats find it expedient to give Dave a bone marrow transplant 🙂

    Mandeno Moments

    December 16, 2009 at 2:27 pm

  2. OK, so I clicked on the link and filled out the application form to become a donor — something that I’ve always wanted to do anyway, but never knew how to go about. I don’t know if I qualify, anyway, because it says that you’re supposed to be BETWEEN the ages of 18 and 60, whereas I actually AM 60, so it depends on how they interpret their own language. Anyway, I’m happy to do whatever I can to help! I hope others will, too. Mostly, we’ll keep you in our prayers!!

    Dr. John H. Roller

    December 17, 2009 at 11:17 am


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