At Prevail we believe every person battling blood cancer deserves a second chance at life — and we are determined to make it happen. We are singularly passionate about engaging the public to help us get everyone involved in curing blood cancer, whether as a donor, a volunteer or a financial supporter. It all begins with one remarkable person, one life-changing swab and one huge win — finding a match and a cure.
Blood cancer is an umbrella term for cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system. In most blood cancers, normal blood cell development is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of abnormal blood cells. The abnormal blood cells can prevent blood from fighting off infection or preventing uncontrolled bleeding.
Unfortunately, blood cancer can strike any one of us at any time. Approximately every four minutes, a child or adult in the United States is diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. That’s 360 people a day, 130,000 people a year.
There are three main types of blood cancers: Leukemia, cancer that is found in your blood and bone marrow; Lymphoma, blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system; and Myeloma, blood cancer that specifically targets your plasma cells.
For many, there is hope of a cure through a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplant. Today, transplantation, of healthy stem cells donated by related and unrelated volunteers, offers hope to many patients suffering from these sometimes deadly diseases.
Potential donors MUST:
Be between the ages of 18 and 55
Be in good general health
Weigh more than 110 lbs but not exceed a BMI 40
Not be HIV positive or have been diagnosed with AIDS
Not have had heart surgery or have heart disease
Not have autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia
Not have sleep apnea, breathing problems or severe asthma (daily inhalers are acceptable)
Not have diabetes requiring insulin (or injectible medication)
Not have hepatitis B or C
Not have kidney or liver disease
Not have had a stroke (including a TIA)
Not have chronic or severe neck or back problems
Not have had uncontrolled epilepsy and not have had any seizures in the past year
Not have a history of blood clotting or a bleeding disorder
Not have a personal history of cancer (melanoma, breast, bladder and cervical cancer [stage 0, in situ] and cured localized skin cancer [basal cell or squamous cell] are acceptable)
There are two ways to donate bone marrow. The method used for donation depends upon the patient’s needs and is determined by the patient’s doctor.
A. Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation (PBSC):
In this method, cells are collected via the bloodstream. To increase the number of stem cells in the bloodstream, donors receive daily injections of a synthetic protein called filgrastim for 4 days before and on the day of the collection.
On the day of collection the donor's blood is removed with a sterile needle from one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood stem cells. The remaining blood is returned to the donor through the other arm. The cell collection is an outpatient procedure that takes about 4-6 hours on 1-2 consecutive days.
Possible side effects and recovery: While taking the medication, many donors experience flu-like symptoms such as headaches, bone and muscle achiness and fatigue. Most side effects should subside within 48 hours of donating.
B. Bone Marrow Donation:
Marrow cells are collected from the backside of the pelvic bone (not the spine) using a special syringe. Donors receive general anesthesia so no pain is experienced during the marrow extraction. This is a 1-2 hour, outpatient, surgical procedure.
Possible side effects and recovery: Many donors experience some pain, bruising and stiffness for up to two weeks after their donation. Within a week of donating, most donors are able to return to work, school and many regular activities. The donor’s marrow is completely replenished within a few weeks.
It's a great feeling to know that you have the power to save a life. Thankfully you won't need to leap tall buildings in a single bound to be a superhero! Instead, you'll need a cheek swab, a kind and compassionate personality, and the dedication to be someone's hero when, some day, you receive the call that you are a match! Are you ready to save a life? The first step is to get swabbed!
GO TO: www.giftoflife.org