When I received a letter this summer from Be the Match, I didn't know what would come next. I just knew that I was being presented with the opportunity to save a life.
I knew that no matter how much time and money I did or did not donate to nonprofits and charities doing important work, this was different. Here was a patient with a blood cancer whose particular immune system resembled my own. Turns out I, among potentially everyone in the world, was in the best position to save her life.
It's an awesome responsibility and opportunity.
Now that I've been through the entire experience, including the ominous-sounding procedure called a "bone marrow harvest," it's clear that the most decisive point for me was simply joining the registry in the first place.
Joining is a small time investment -- all it takes is a few cotton swabs of saliva -- but understandably seems to have no pay off. The chances of ever becoming a donor are only about 1 in 540.
But if a donor request letter does come, as it did for me, the tangible opportunity to save someone's life is so compelling and immediate that the next steps seemingly take no effort at all.
Getting the letter
About 1 in 40 registry members will receive a potential donor letter at some point, according to the donor program. This just indicates that based on the saliva sample, you might be the match for somebody.
I was on the registry for five years before I received a potential donor letter.
Here's what happened next.