Part Three: Interview with two-time bone marrow donor, Sean Patterson
STCF: How did you feel on the big day? What was it like to donate bone marrow?
July 18, 2014…DONATION DAY!!!! Nothing could prepare me for the range of emotions that hit me on this day. My thoughts and prayers were and had always been with this little girl and her family and today was the day that they were going to have the CHANCE to win the fight. The donation process wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I could definitely tell that I had been stuck in the back a few times….OUCH!!! While the procedures varies slightly from hospital to hospital, generally, the doctors make several (typically one to four) small incisions through the skin over the back of the pelvic bones. The incisions are less than one-fourth inch long and do not require stitches. The doctors inserts a special hollow needle through these incisions over the rear of the pelvic bone with a syringe attached to the needle to draw out the marrow.
STCF: Sean, your donor story is rare because you donated twice. Why?
Things didn’t go as planned with the little girl and the bone marrow and I was asked in early September 2014 if I would be willing to donate stem cells to assist the bone marrow process and what do you think my answer was to that…yup you guessed it I said YES!!! The stem cell donation was scheduled for October 20, 2014, but before I was able to donate I had to do five days of Filgrastim injections. These injections had my body sore and this felt worse that any part of the bone marrow donation, but I wouldn’t change anything about the process to give this little girl a chance.
October 20, 2014…STEM CELL DONATION DAY. This donation was done through a process called apheresis, which is similar to donating plasma. During apheresis, a needle is placed into each of your arms. Blood is removed from a vein in one arm and passed through tubing into a blood cell separator machine. The machine collects blood-forming cells, platelets, and some white blood cells. Plasma and red blood cells are returned to your body through the other arm. All the tubing used in the machine is sterile and is used only once for your donation. Seventy-five percent of all PBSC donations are completed in one apheresis session, which may last up to eight hours. The remaining 25 percent of donations are completed in two apheresis sessions, which will take four to six hours each day. My donation was completed in three hours.
The last update I received in December of 2014 was the little girl’s body hadn’t fully accepted my bone marrow or stem cells, but I was hopeful that it would. At first I took this personally and felt like a failure until friends and family pointed out that I had done my part and I had given this little girl A CHANCE!!
Sadly, I received a call on April 3, 2015 that the little girl had passed away. I didn’t feel like I had done enough to help her, but everyone let me know that I had given the family more time with her.
STCF: Sean, we agree with your friends and family that you did the most that anyone could do to help this little girl. Indeed, you have gone well beyond the call of duty by encouraging others to donate as well. Your compassion has led you to do wonderful things via your foundation. Tell us about the foundation and the work you do.
On April 26, 2014, the 411 Foundation held a donor registration drive and was able to get forty new donors registered. These forty new donors give more individuals and families the CHANCE of winning their fight with blood cancer.
STCF: Sean, you agree with us that both bone marrow donation and cord blood donation are important. The collection processes for each could not be more different. Cord blood can only be collected at birth. . . a fleeting, precious moment. What is your advice to expectant parents?
My advice to parents is to really consider donating cord blood. By donating, parents could save a life. This process doesn’t hurt anyone, but it could help someone and that’s all that matters.
STCF: Thank you, Sean, for spending time with us today. Your compassion is certainly contagious!!
Give life twice. #SAVETHECORD
You can make a difference.
Donate your baby’s cord blood and/or become a bone marrow donor yourself.
Pregnant? Want to donate cord blood?