My Bones Saved the Life of a Stranger

When the Malcolm Lee signed up for a bone marrow drive for De-Bug mentor Kevin Weston, he didn't know he would ever get a call back to see if he was a match. Turned out he was, just for someone else.

(Photo of author Malcolm Lee)

The Sign Up
I signed up to be a bone marrow donor in January of 2014 through Silicon Valley De-Bug. We were supporting a Bone Marrow Drive for Kevin Weston, who I learned was a pivotal mentor in the structuring of our De-Bug center and it’s work. We were all asked to enter into the registry, and me being Black, we had hopes I would be the match. It was easy for me to sign up for two reasons, I wanted to help Kevin and give back to him for his mentorship, and it was something that we as a center did together, so I felt supported.

The Call
Honestly, by the time I got called I had forgot I was on the Bone Marrow Registry. I got the call from the Asian American Donor Program. They explained to me that I was a potential match for a 29-year-old African American male, and asked if I would do some blood tests to confirm whether or not I would be a match. I agreed, thinking they were going to find someone else, or that I wasn’t the match. A few days later I received another call telling me I was a good match to be a secondary donor. I agreed to fill in as primary donor if anything happened to the primary donor at the time. Then shortly after, the second call telling me that I was actually a stronger match for the person needing the bone marrow. At this point the conversation seemed more urgent and I was given more information on the patient I was donating to. During the conversation they made it clear that I was not donating just blood but bone marrow. I learned about the success rate and the decision became a no brainer.

The Lead Up
Leading up to the procedure I was burnt out with blood tests. The procedure required me to have a physical exam and for me to give blood to test four times. I have been to the hospital one time in the last eight years leading up to the exam, so the visits to the hospital was unusual for me. Within the two weeks leading up to the procedure, and including the procedure, I had four visits to three different hospitals and three visits to two separate blood banks. Donating also required also speaking to representatives from the national registry by phone. All in all I was very happy once the procedure was finished and I was recovered.

The After
I am so used to being active, so I was nervous about having to take time away from physical activity after the procedure. All in all, I was out for just two weeks from working out. I was back to work two days after the procedure, but admittedly a little sore and slightly tired. The first couple days back were when I felt it the most, but two weeks later I was pretty much back to my normal physical routine.

When I reflect on the entire experience I feel slightly awkward that I don’t know the person I donated too, but for the price of a life I think my two weeks of recovery was well worth it.

For more information on how to register, go to: Asian American Donor Program

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