I spoke with the National Marrow Donor Program again, and was given a little more information. They test 6 antigens and I matched all 6 with a 10 year old boy with leukemia. They call this a "perfect" match. I went in last Thursday for a one hour information session, followed by a physical. They drew more blood, did an extensive health history, urinalysis, EKG, and chest Xray. (There was no cost to me for any of this). After evaluating the results of those, and assuming I'm healthy enough for the process, they'll schedule a donation date. Tentatively we are shooting for mid-January.
There are two ways to donate - a bone marrow donation or a PBSC donation. The patient's doctor has requested a bone marrow donation, but ultimately it is my decision. I've read their materials, watched a video, and asked a lot of questions, and I think the bone marrow donation is the route I will take. I will make the final decision after the results of my physical are known. The bone marrow donation involves anesthesia and it is a surgical procedure. It typically lasts less than 2 hours, and the donor can usually go home the same day. Soreness and fatigue will usually occur, and may last weeks. The PBSC donation requires that you get injections of a drug called filgrastim for five days preceding the donation date. Your blood is then removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through the other arm. This process is similar to donating plasma. Depending on the amount they need to extract, it can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, and might be separated out into two days. There is no soreness, but you may experience headache or bone or muscle aches for several days before collection, a side effect of the filgrastim injections. These effects disappear shortly after collection.
With everything I know right now, I think the best and least scary/uncomfortable situation for me would actually be doing the anesthesia and getting it over with in less than 2 hours. I already fainted the first time I tried to give my blood samples, and started to feel a little queasy the second time I gave my samples, so I just think 4 - 8 hours hooked up to needles in my arms would be torture. I would hate to get hooked up and then faint and then not be able to complete the process (and possibly have it happen repeatedly). I'm a little scared about the actual donation, but I'm not wavering in my commitment to go through with it. Survival rates after getting a transplant range from 30 to 60%. Without a transplant, 0 to 15%.
More to come....