We received the most wonderful letter in the mail recently and wanted to share it with you. It touched our hearts and brought tears to our eyes. I’m so proud of my incredible husband. Here’s the background from Bill…
While I was still in the navy oh, eons ago, I registered with the National Marrow Donor Program because, as is often the case, the military serves as a great test bed for programs that need a lot of volunteers, fast. About two years ago, long after I forgot I had ever registered, I received a call from the donor center indicating I was the best possible match for a man with leukemia and who had run out of other treatment options. The only information I was given was that the recipient was 72 years old and male and would I consider donating?
I thought, well, here is an opportunity to give somebody’s grandpa a little more time on this Earth to love his children and grandchildren. Reinforced by the fact that both of Anne and my parents and grandparents are deceased, I seized the chance to help.
I stayed in the DC area for a few days to go through a series of tests and to take a drug called Filgrastim via daily injection for four days which helped harvest some of the bone marrow cells and circulate them throughout my bloodstream for removal via apheresis (this is the less-intrusive, more experimental, way of harvesting bone marrow cells). While I happened to have been one of the few with occasional but significant bone pain during the harvesting period, I was lucky enough to have Annie there to lean on (thanks, baby!) and some oxycodine, and the procedure went off without a hitch. About a month later I received a call from the program indicating my bone marrow had been successfully transplanted in the recipient, that he was still in serious condition, but that he was improving.
Fast forward to not too long ago. I had previously been asked, if the recipient wanted to know his donor, would I be ok with sharing that information. I said yes, and a few weeks later I received a letter from Keith, along with a copy of the invitation to his and Nancy’s 50th wedding anniversary party. I contacted them recently, and they were ok with me sharing his letter. Not that there was any doubt I’d donate again in a heartbeat, but their letter certainly reinforced that commitment. This is what he said:
Dear Bill (and Anne),
On 8-8-08, I underwent chemo therapy for MSD (leukemia). Following the chemo, I was transfused with stem cells. These stem cells were yours and because of that unselfish donation, today I am doing very well! The doctor tells us that I am one of the 20% or so that have very few problems after a bone marrow transplant.
Thank you for your generous donation!
One might say that this is a normal everyday transfusion except for the fact that I turned 74 years old on 3-28-2010. Also we were told that 10 years ago there was no treatment for anyone over the age of 60–that plus the fact that we exercise regularly and try to eat well, convinced the doctor that I would be a good candidate for the procedure.
My wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding on 6-5-2010 with our two sons, their wives, our five grandchildren, and many of our good friends. We dined and danced throughout the evening. Since you are in the wedding profession, we thought you might like to see one of the invites that our children made for the event.
We are planning several trips throughout the summer and hope to fulfill a trip that we had planned in May of 2008 to Niagara Falls. This has all been made possible through your participation in the bone marrow donor program.
Thank you so very much for helping extend our lives together and know that you will always be in our thoughts.
Keith & Nancy
P.S. I even lost my blood type, A+, to your type O! Am hoping that my hair will grow back and look as good as yours do on your web site. 🙂
Here is a copy of their invitation:
I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to do this, and if there’s a side effect of hair growth as a result of the transplant, then I’m all for that too, Keith!
If you are healthy, please consider registering yourself as a possible donor. Your decision could save a life.
Bill & Anne