Wednesday, May 13, 2009


It's been over a year since my Dad had his bone marrow transplant. He is doing amazingly well. The science behind his transplant is astounding to me. It's crazy to think of all the people who had a hand in this miracle. The bench researchers who probably worked for years and years, one teeny tiny victory here and there, collaborating with each other across the country (maybe the world) figuring out how leukemia works and what works against it and how our bodies react to every little tweak and on and on and on. We humans are so smart it can give me a headache if I think about it too long. But the clincher for me is not what our humans brains have the capacity to do, it's what our hearts can do. Since it's been a year since the transplant, my Dad and the donor (who was a match found through the national bone marrow bank, not a relative) have exchanged information. This is the email the donor sent to my Dad (I omitted his personal info):

Hello Michael!

First of all, congrats on all the progress you've made! It's been exciting and encouraging getting those infrequent updates. And thanks for signing the release, also exciting.

So I don't know how you'd like to proceed with this but I figured I'd first tell you a little about me and how my marrow found its way to you.

I'm 25, live near ******** and have one year left in an MFA program. When I was doing my undergrad, there was a sponsored blood drive and marrow test for a professor on our campus. I've always donated blood regularly and thought I might as well sign up for the marrow registry while I was at it. Of course, I did not match with him--I never heard if they found a match or not after I graduated-- but remained on the list. Then one day a few years later I got a call from 
Central Blood Bank reminding me that I was on such a list and that I was a potential match. And the rest just worked out, I suppose.

When it seemed like the odds were pretty good that I'd be donating, I didn't really hesitate because my father died from cancer when I was 16. And knowing the power of those cells on a depleted body, if I somehow matched the astronomically small window of DNA that would work, how could I say no?

Anyway, I hope all is well. From what I understand, you're in remission and recovering well, so that's amazing. I'd be curious to know how things are now, how long you've been fighting this, and just anything else about you really.

My Dad has since called him and said they had a nice chat. I know my Dad was nervous to contact his donor, I would be too. This total stranger underwent something at best inconvenient (injections daily for 4-5 days, 2-4 6 hour collection "sessions", possible body aches, insomnia, nausea, etc...) for someone he's never met. It's this aspect of humankind that I find most amazing and inspiring. The heart that can give so unselfishly. This donor has given us an amazing gift - more time with our Dad and Grandpa, but not just that. The gift of realizing the great goodness that lies inside of each of us and the ability we have to touch each other's lives.


Jennifer said...

Thank you for sharing that. It is amazing. We are so glad you still get to have your dad here.

kto1s said...

I don't think I'd ever realized the sacrifices the donor had to make, let alone the long, hard road your dad has been fighting. So glad you shared this, MA

Camilla said...

Thanks for sharing this, brought tears to my eyes.

Darcie said...

Love that story! So inspiring. It was fab to read that after a long day at work when I feel like complaining- now instead I am reminded of what is really important and that I have plenty of blessings and nothing to complain about.

Will+Candace Fox said...

i loved your post, all about your daddy! i am so glad he is doing awesome. i hope you are doing good too.

Taryn said...

I praise God everyday for Uncle Mike's recovery and that the donor did such an amazing thing. I can't wait to see you soon!

Mallory said...

That is SO cool! I'm so glad you were able to get in touch with him. He has blessed our whole family beyond belief!

Also, in response to your comment on my blog, I liked the movie. It almost completely followed the book and was well-done! I'll have to bring it with me when I come! See you soon!

Ronda said...

MA-Thank you for sharing this note. It was amazing to think what they both have gone through. I am so glad you and your family get to be so close to your dad now, even though we miss you.

Renae Pelo said...

Mychael-Ann, it was so touching to read about your dad and his doner. What a miracle, or series of miracles, it took. I am so grateful for all the blessings involved, especially that your dad is there to spoil your kids.