Blood cancer statistics are staggering and there is none more striking than this: Every three minutes someone in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
Stem cell donations have proven to be a credible answer for these individuals. In 2015, I signed up to be a donor. It was an easy cheek swab kit and my DNA was stored in a registry through Be the Match.
The more people that sign up broadens the pool and accelerates the potential for a cure. It’s life-changing for so many people.
Here are the reasons I decided to donate.
This is the most important reason. Everyone who signs up has a chance to one day save a life. I was taken aback when I received the call about being a match. You are matched to a person who has already gone through chemotherapy and radiation and has no other alternative. This just feels like the right thing to do.
I didn’t always know I'd become a nurse. I earned my bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Oneonta State College. However, my mom is a nurse and I eventually wanted to follow in her footsteps. Thanks to the support of my family and my husband, Shawn, they helped me pursue my calling. I could not be happier. Caring for others is engrained in us.
Four days prior to the donation you begin preparing your body. A daily injection stimulates stem cell production, allowing for there to be enough to donate. During the donation blood is extracted from your body. An apheresis machine then separates the stem cells from your blood, the rest of which is sent back into to you. The actual process isn’t painful. It’s as simple as donating blood. Most people are able to return to daily activities (work, school and others) within one to seven days. I thank everyone at Be The Match, New York Blood Center, Ruthee-lu Bayer, MD, and her team at Monter Cancer Center, as well as the Apheresis team at North Shore University Hospital for making my donation as seamless as can be.
There is no greater gift than donation. By donating stem cells, you are giving another person a second chance at life. The mild discomfort you feel during this process is nothing when compared to what the other person has had to suffer through. It is rewarding to know you are providing hope to someone who may have lost it. I’m excited about the potential to meet the recipient one year from now.
Stephanie Motz, RN, is a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at North Shore University Hospital. She is pursuing a master’s in nursing education online from Grand Canyon University in Arizona.