I realised that some people don’t know enough about blood and bone marrowdonations, so I’m going to write everything I know to dispel any myths.
Firstly, blood donation. And I don’t care if you’re gay. Do you think you have some STI or STD just because you’re gay? Do you think there’s a massive difference between anal sex with a woman and anal sex with a man? People can lie. I would. They check all blood anyway, and if you’re clean you shouldn’t have a problem. You make a choice between helping someone and not helping someone. I’m sure they’d take your blood whether you’re gay or straight…. Or does a gay man have some kind of toxic, disease infested blood? Is it green? Is it yellow? No, it’s not, so stop being a massive arsehole and hiding behind the curtain which you call “rules”.
If you’re scared about the pain, don’t be. It doesn’t hurt. Ironically enough, before getting diagnosed I was on both the blood donors register and the bone marrow donors register. You feel one sharp prick, and then you sit for a couple of minutes and get a biscuit afterwards. YAY!
Second of all, Bone marrow. Now this is something that pisses me off.
NO! They do not stick a frickin’ drill in your bone, you massive ***. The bone marrow extraction is very much like the blood donation process, only a bit longer.
So, you sign up to be a bone marrow donor, this can be done in two ways:
- Regular blood donors get the option to sign up with a little extra blood being taken at one of their donation sessions.
- Go online and sign up to the Anthony Nolan Trust. Sign up and you will be sent a Spit Kit. You spit in the kit (OH MAII GOWSH, NO NEEDLEZZ!?! ) and send it back.www.anthonynolan.org/
If you’re a match to anyone, you will receive a phone call and be given the option to follow through with the following procedure.
You will be given some drugs to take over a period of about 3 days. These drugs make you produce extra stem cells which will dislodge from the centre of the bone and travel around your body in your bloodstream. Note: this is completely painless; you won’t even notice a change. Next, you will be invited to a hospital where you will be hooked to a machine and your blood will be taken from one arm, filtered through a machine which extracts ONLY the stem cells, and feeds the blood back into your body via the other arm. This is not painful, however you may feel minor discomfort. Once the procedure is over, you get a big pat on your back and the knowledge that you’ve probably saved someone’s life. You then go home and continue to live your life as normal.
At no point in this procedure are you ever drilled, or put in unnecessary pain. In fact, the only person who is ever drilled into is the patient awaiting the transplant, so if you were ever sitting feeling sorry for yourself and your minor discomfort then thinking about how much discomfort and distress the sufferer is in. It might make you snap out of it.
Now for the hard to explain part. Finding a match for blood donation is relatively easy because everyone fits into a blood type. If you match someone’s blood type, they can have your blood and vice versa. Bone marrow, however, is a complete different kettle of fish. I’ll try to explain the way that my doctors explained to me.
Bone marrow depends on a set of criteria. I don’t know how to explain it, so say there are 10 boxes? And in these boxes you can have… 1000 different shapes that could be 1000 different colours. And you have 4 core boxes, and 6 other boxes, so something like this, but obviously with an array of shapes:
The ones on the green background are the ones that MUST be the same. All four must match to even be considered as a possible donor. Even if 9/10 match, but the one that does not match is in the compulsory category, the patient’s body will reject the marrow.
So once you match the 4 musts, you have to match another 2 of the boxes as a minimum to be considered for the transplant. The shapes must be in the exact same box, and the exact same colour. The more boxes that match, the better the chance of the transplant being a success. Your boxes will be determined by your genes, which is why a lot of patients receive donations from family members. However, family members don’t always match (like in my case).
Because there are so many different combinations, you have a 1 in 3 million chance of matching with someone else (not including family members). This results in only around 30% of patients ever receiving a transplant.
I’d like to stress that this number could elevate if more people were willing to be donors. It’s not as awful as most would imagine, and I would imagine the end result would be quite rewarding.
On that note, I’d just like to encourage more people from ethnic minorities to donate bone marrow as there is currently a distinct lack of donors for patients of Caribbean, Asian and African origins. The same goes for blood and organs, with thousands of people with rare blood groups dying each year because of the lack of donations.
If you’re now feeling quite generous, you can also sign up to donate your organs after you die. Your organs will be checked and tested after death and you can also choose which organs you would like to donate by signing up to:www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/de…
You can do this at any age, but if needs be, consult your parents before signing up. If for some reason you believe that you’ll….need?... your organs after you die and decide you’ll be a knob and not sign up, then I hope you never need a transplant.
In other news, if you happen to be pregnant, you can also donate your baby’s umbilical cord for stem cell harvesting. This offers an alternative to bone marrow transplants and has managed to save over 1000 people in the last year. Unfortunately, there is a long waiting list. Want to make it shorter? Consult your doctor or midwife at your next appointment.
Just remember, at least 7 people die every day due to lack of transplants or transfusions. Let’s try and make a difference people.