I am registered on the International Bone Marrow Donor List. I'm sure you are shocked. I mean...someone who's been a Gestational Carrier wouldn't also want to give her bone marrow, would she? Honestly, I was on the bone marrow donor list looonnnnggggg before I was ever a surrogate or even entertained the thought of surrogacy. I actually started giving blood at age 18 because 'they' said that my A- blood type was needed...and I have been giving it on and off since then.
Back to my bone marrow...some poor kid in my old home town of Rochester, New York needed a bone marrow transplant at some point in the 90's and were having a donor drive where you could be tested to see if you were a match. So I decided to go for it and see if I could be of any help. If you were not a match, you had the option to be included in the International Registry and I said sure....needless to say, finding a bone marrow donor match seems like hunting for a needle in a haystack and I was NOT a match....
HOWEVER, fast forward to December 2004. I am about 33 weeks pregnant with twins for my couple. Huge, uncomfortable but quite healthy. BP ok, weight ok, borderline gestational diabetes but, hey, what do you want? And I get THE CALL! Apparently the initial search through the donor bank pinged on yours truly. I was floored. Seriously. YEARS and YEARS had gone by...maybe a decade even, before this call and now I am soooo pregnant and am saying things like 'can she hang on for a few more weeks?' The woman on the other end of the phone, you see, painted the story for a 9 year old girl looking for a donor...in India or somewhere...and then there was me...in Florida. Erika was about to turn 9 and so my heart went out to those parents...parents somewhere trying desperately to save their child....and yet I was pregnant....for someone else...with twins!
I was considered an initial match and because they only test for 6 HLA markers when you join the NMDP Registry, additional testing needed to be done in my case. By testing for a basic level of HLA (Human leukocyte antigens )markers, they keep tissue typing costs low - so that they can add as many donors as possible to the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry. I decided that I would give my permission to go ahead and order any additional testing that would potentially allow me to donate for this little girl. I figured that if I was going to be a match I would deal with that issue when I was contacted the next time.
As things turned out, I wasn't the best match for this 9 year old girl. Figuring that I wouldn't be able to donate ASAP due to the pregnancy and with the health needs of the potential recipient, the NMDP had to find someone else. (which was a little sad for me, however, ONE thing at a TIME PLEASE!) Because I had the additional testing done I am now in another category and am probably one of the potential donors that are looked at first for a match. Some day I do hope to be able to save a life in this very special way.
The reason I've decided to share this story with you is two fold. I think that it's an interesting experience to be put in the middle of bringing a life or two into this world as a surrogate and being asked to save the life of someone who is already living. Secondly, I encourage all who qualify to be a part of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry. You could be the one that is a perfect match for another. YOU can make a difference!
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