You Could Save A Life: Here's How
My son came across the flyer sitting on the counter. "Help My Father, He is Dying" he read and then saw a picture of his beloved uncle.
He knew that my uncle was sick. We had talked about the fact that he had a blood disease (MDS, a fatal pre-leukemia disease), but the immediacy of the word dying was too much for him. I understand, it is too much for me too.
I explained that we are searching for a bone marrow match for his uncle and surely, someone is going to step forward and register for the bone marrow bank and be the miracle match. Because people are good and willing and there is a match out there somewhere.
Thirty percent of people who need a bone marrow match will find one in their family, the rest have to depend on the kindness of strangers.
There are few things in life that you can do to save another person's life. Registering for the bone marrow bank is one of them.
My uncle's bone marrow is failing and he needs a match urgently. But don't do it for me and my uncle. Do it for Christina a high school student, or Ezra who just had his third birthday, or Janet Liang or the thousands of others around the world. You could be the match. Or your brother, or cousin, or best friend. But if you haven't registered no one will never know.
There are no needles or blood involved in registering -- it is just a cheek swab. You can even do it at home by registering at One Match and having a kit sent to your door. You swab your cheeks at home and then send it back to Canadian Blood Services.
Or you can go to one of the events around the country and swab your cheeks with hundreds of others. A two-minute cheek swab -- that is it! We are running a drive in Toronto for my uncle on March 25. The Chinese community is running drives across the country on March 31st. You don't have to know my uncle, you don't have to be Chinese to go to any of the events, you just have to show up. Click here for other events.
There are so many myths about bone marrow donation, but the most prevelant myth is that donating bone marrow is extremely painful. It's not (well, not usually); over 80 percent of donations are from the peripheral blood stem cell. Which means the procedure is very similar to donating blood. The remaining 20 percent of donations take day surgery.
Canada faces a unique problem, because our population is so diverse, we need a bone marrow registry that reflects that diversity. But people aren't registering as quickly as we need them. The registry is in urgent need of Asians, Blacks and those of Jewish descent. And it needs you too.
Obviously, I know more than I want to about this topic. And I've reached out to my friends to help. As soon as I sent out an email to my friends and family, I was amazed at the response. People who I barely knew were offering to help. My kids saw me with tears in my eyes more than once as I read supportive messages from people who couldn't do enough to support my family.
It is a great lesson for my kids seeing people who are eager to give, it is a great lesson to me as well. I was on the receiving end of the appeals at one point. I heard about other swab events but I never did anything about registering until my family member needed me to and I'm embarrassed about that now.
I hope that the sadness of having a terminally-ill uncle will be somewhat lightened by feeling part of a community of people who are trying hard to ease the pain. My kids are seeing people trying to save a life. I tell them that a superhero is out there, we just need to keep looking.
Have you registered for the bone marrow registry? Will you?
Want more chaos? Last year, I had a guest post by Gill Deacon about the toxic ingredients in baby products.