11/30/14: “My name is [Karen] and I am four fingers old; mostly I just try to do the things that I am told….”
Four years ago, Mary Lou gave me the precious gift of her bone marrow. This perfect stranger was my perfect match, and now is literally a part of me for life. I got to meet and thank her in person a year and a half post transplant, an incredible experience.
This past year, I finally had the pleasure of meeting another of my personal heroes face to face, Laura Evans. We met online through marrowforums.org about 4-1/2 years ago and it was sort of “love at first write” – I’ve mentioned her here before. Laura celebrated her five year rebirthday in June and met her donor, Carin, for the first time in late August. In honor of Laura’s and my friendship and in the spirit of the season of giving, I’m posting her donor’s story here today. Please consider giving someone else the gift of life! There’s more information on how to join the registry at Be the Match.
Somewhere out there…
“And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky
Somewhere out there
If love can see us through, then we’ll be together
Somewhere out there, out where dreams come true.”
I wanted to share with you the story how I became the lucky one to be able to donate my bone marrow to Laura.
Life is full of circumstances. You just never know what your own actions, what you say and what you do can make a difference in somebody’s life. Just like when you give a smile to that stranger you meet on the street, or when you do a random act of kindness. You just never know what will come out at the other end, how your actions can literally change another person’s life. Like in the movie “Pay it forward”.
Here is my story consisting of such circumstances. Back in the mid 90’s, I worked at the University of St. Louis Hospital in St. Louis, MO. One day, I was early for work and near the elevators I saw an event held by the Bone Marrow Registry. As I had some time left before work, I stopped by. I decided to sign up, gave some blood and then jumped in the elevator to my shift at the pharmacy. Then I heard nothing for years and years. Sometimes I thought whatever happened to my blood sample. Did it get lost? Or was my blood not a match for anyone?
Through the years I changed jobs a few times, started a family, moved twice, the second time even across the world to my home country of Sweden. About 13 years later in spring of 2009, my blood was finally a possible match! For official purposes such as taxes, I had left an address in USA of my mother-in-law. The Bone Marrow Registry in US contacted her, and as she stated that I had moved to Sweden, the Swedish Bone Marrow Registry took over the search to find me. The registry here is called Tobias Registret after a young man called Tobias, who unfortunately died after never finding a bone marrow donor. Tobias Registret looked me up in the phone registry and called my cell phone. I was visiting my parents when I got the call that I was one of about 10-20 best matches.
A few days after I got back home, I left a blood sample at the local health clinic to see if my blood after 13 years was still a good enough match. It was a very good match and more tests were done to find out how good. When I got the news from Tobias Registret that I was the best match, I went to one of the best hospitals in the country 300 miles away for a thorough check up as well as meetings with coordinators and doctors to see if I was both physically and mentally up for the donation. It was also decided that my marrow would be harvested using the method of drawing up the marrow in syringes in my hip bone near the lower back.
A few weeks later, I was back on the train going about 300 miles to the same hospital for the actual donation. It would be an overnight stay, and it was decided that my mother would join me as my husband had just started a new job a week earlier and couldn’t get time off. This was the same town as there my mother had received her nursing degree many years earlier, so in the evening she wanted to show me the university, the area where she stayed, as well as the cathedral where her graduation took place. We also went to a classical concert at the cathedral before it was time to head back to our room at the hospital.
The next morning, everything went great at the procedure. The marrow was rushed to the airport and then flown using a courier some 10 hours to USA. I was told it would be transplanted that same day into my recipient. I was later told by my coordinator at the Bone Marrow Registry that all had gone well, but it was too early to know anything. All I was knew about her was that she was in her 20’s-30’s, living in the Midwest and desperately needing a bone marrow. Five years later, I get to know her name, and we are now literally blood sisters.
Long story short: You will just never know how your life will change another person’s life, how small circumstances can literally save someone’s life. What if I had been off work that day back in the mid 90’s? What if I had been late for work and not have had time to give that blood sample? Mind boggling to say the least…
~Carin Harrison, July 2014
I’m way past due for a major medical update here – I’ll try to post soon after I get the results from my annual exam and bone marrow biopsy on December 11th. In the meantime, please assume I’m being basically boring.
- Day +1148: Looking Out My Back Door, Creedence Clearwater Revival (IDed by Leslie)
- …Faith, George Michael (IDed by Guy and Cathy)
- Day +1196: Wheel in the Sky, Journey (IDed by Leslie, also a valiant attempt by David)
- …Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is, Chicago (IDed by Cathy)
- Day +1230: I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) (IDed by Heather, David, and Leslie)
- Day +1364: Skating Away, Jethro Tull (IDed by Debbie and Chris)