Edan Lambert, a member of our Pi chapter at Iowa State University, donated her stem cells to a patient in need. She tells us what it was like to be the match and how it felt to give a woman a second chance at life.
I am a statistic.
At the age of 22, I became a statistic. A good statistic. A 1 in 430 statistic.
I’ll start from the beginning. Two years ago, at a collegiate youth group I signed up to join “Be The Match” National Marrow Donation Registry with a simple cheek swab and a couple signatures. I didn’t really know what it was, and I knew my chances of ever being a match were slim to none. I had all but forgotten about it until I got a phone call in June from “Be The Match” requesting additional blood testing because I was a potential match. Keep in mind my family and friends didn’t even know I ever signed up for this! Talk about being completely blindsided by a phone call as life changing and drastic as this one.
June: I was 1 of 40 registry members to be selected for additional blood tests to determine if I was the best possible match for a searching patient.
A bone marrow transplant is a life-saving treatment for people with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, and other diseases like sickle cell anemia. First, patients undergo chemotherapy and sometimes radiation to destroy their diseased marrow. Then, a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are given directly into the patient’s bloodstream, where they begin to function and multiply.
For a patient’s body to accept these healthy cells, the patient needs a donor who is a close match. 70% percent of patients do not have a donor in their family and depend on the “Be The Match” Registry to find an unrelated bone marrow donor. That’s where I come in!
July: I was 1 in 300 registry members to be selected as the best possible donor for a searching patient.
That next week, my mom and I drove to the designated hospital for a day long information session and more testing. They explained to me that I would be donating peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC). PBSC is very similar to donating plasma or platelets, so a simple process compared to going through surgery to donate bone marrow.
August: I was 1 in 430 registry members who actually donated.
It was the day I gave another woman a second chance at life, kids another day to have a mom, a husband another day to be with his wife, a woman more time with the ones that she loves.
I showed up at 8am accompanied by my dad and wonderful boyfriend. Shortly after, the nurses hooked me up to an I.V. in both arms and out went my blood with a whole lot of stem cells. A short time later my blood was pumped back into me but without all the excess stem cells my body had generated from 5 days worth of stem cell generating shots called Filgrastim. The process lasted close to 6 hours, but my wonderful mom wrapped me a gift that I could open every hour of my donation process. She’s the greatest.
I don’t write this blog post as a hero or a life saver because I’m really just a normal college student. I firmly believe that if anyone were handed the same opportunity as me to save another human’s life, they would in a heartbeat.
I am writing this blog post for two reasons:
- To spread awareness for “Be the Match” and bone marrow donation. If you would like to join:
- Visit https://join.bethematch.org/Edan to learn more about donation and register online
- Find a donor drive near you
- Prayers. This woman isn’t out of the woods yet. Please pray that her body grafts my stem cells and she can once and for all beat this cancer that has caused her life so much pain and grief.