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Ross Shares Best Christmas Present Ever - BMT
Ross Shares Best Christmas Present Ever
As a participating member of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), Heart of America holds nationwide drives year-round. To become a member of the national registry, Terri Teague-Ross, research assistant in the Department of Surgical Oncology, provided a small blood sample to determine her Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) type. Although she was not a match for any UAMS Medical Center patients, Heart of America identified her as a “miracle match” for another young patient five months later. All six of the required HLA identifiers matched that of Ross’ recipient. “I was surprised when I was called. I had heard that people are on the list sometimes for as long as ten years,” said Ross.
Many perceive bone marrow donation as a painful process and thus often avoid it. Ross felt compelled to find out for herself and now lives to tell a story that dispels the painful myths surrounding donation. “It wasn’t as painful as I’d expected; they used two needles in the small of my back to extract the marrow. I was sore but back to work in only a couple of days,” she said.
Two months after donating, Ross received word that the transplant was a success. “It was a wonderful feeling to hear that I had made a difference to a one-year-old boy, that he was doing well and getting better because of a contribution I made,” she said.
Cases like Ross’ are rare. Chances are low that a marrow volunteer will be a match for a patient with a fatal blood disease. In fact, the odds of finding a matched, unrelated donor vary from one in 10,000 to one in 100,000, according to statistics from Heart of America.
Once a match is identified, donors undergo a process that can take anywhere between two to three months. When donors reach the stage of actual stem cell donation, marrow cells are aspired from the backside of the iliac crest (the back of the pelvic bone). Five to 10 percent of a donor’s marrow is taken. If the recipient is a baby, a “coffee cup” of marrow is needed; an adult male may need as much as a “coffee pot.” Ross’ recipient was a young boy with Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS), a rare genetic disorder inherited through the X chromosome that only affects males.
The donor’s marrow replenishes itself in a few weeks after the procedure. Four months after her procedure, Ross continues to uplift the positive after-effects of being a bone marrow donor by encouraging others to join the registry. “I would definitely do this again, and I encourage every one that is able to do this to do it,” she said. “What I’ve received in return has been so much more than what I’ve given. This was the best Christmas present ever — to know that this was a success!”
For more information on joining the Heart of America Bone Marrow Registry, call 1-800-366-6710 or visit their Web site at www.crn.org/marrow.
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