The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

August 29, 2013

Bone marrow donor humble by opportunity to donate

The Daily Southerner

TARBORO — I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, and a current event in my life has confirmed that.

On the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 9, I was scrolling through my emails on my iPhone when a new message popped up with the words at the top,

“You’re a match!”

“A match for what?”, I thought.  

My eyes widened with disbelief as I read further and discovered that my bone marrow was a match for someone with a form of blood cancer. I also learned that day that less than 1 percent of registered bone marrow donors are ever matched with a patient. A flood of emotions poured over me, as I pondered the rare opportunity I had in front of me.

That same afternoon, I called the coordinator for Delete Blood Cancer DKMS, the organization with which I had registered to become a donor. She explained to me the next steps in the process – filling out an extensive health form, having a confirmatory matching blood test, then traveling out of state to have a bone marrow extraction or stem cell transplant. The phrase that stuck out to me in that conversation was,

“You could save someone’s life.”

The thought of that was humbling, overwhelming and amazing to me all at the same time. I pulled out my bone marrow donor card that I kept in my wallet, white with a red puzzle piece on it, and thought about the “puzzle pieces,” or chain of events, that led to that day.

On Oct. 13, 2012, I had gone to a bone marrow drive for Teresa Mobley, a cheerleading coach at SouthWest Edgecombe High School who had been diagnosed with leukemia and was in need of a donor. I had written a story on Mobley and was there to do a follow-up article on the community’s support of Mobley during her struggle with cancer. After I did interviews and took pictures of people getting their cheeks swabbed in order to register to become donors, a representative from DKMS posed the question, “Why don’t you register?”

I thought for a moment and said, “Why not?”

I signed the back of my bone marrow done card, placed it in my wallet, and fleetingly thought for about a week, “I wonder if I’ll ever be called?” Most of all, I hoped that Mobley would find a donor, and found out shortly thereafter that she had.

Later, I did a story on Ashley Hawkins, a young lady who had registered at the drive and found out she was a match for someone. I was overjoyed, but knowing the odds, still didn’t expect to get a call myself. That’s why finding out I was a match nearly a year later came as a complete surprise.

I went into the Vidant Edgecombe Hospital laboratory Friday morning to have blood work done — I will learn the results in a week. If everything checks out, I will receive a call in a time period of anywhere from two weeks to two months to donate my bone marrow or have a stem cell transplant.

I have never had second thoughts about this process, because I feel that it is something I am called to do. Now, whenever I’m having a bad day, rather than dwelling on that, I think about that other person’s day-to-day struggles with cancer, and my problems pale in comparison.

I don’t know what will be the end result of all this, or if I’ll ever meet the person to whom I am willing to donate my bone marrow.  But one thing is certain.  This experience has changed my perspective on life, and made me realize how blessed I truly am.

Miranda Baines is a reporter for The Daily Southerner newspaper.