E.T., Bone Home
I got a couple of emails yesterday from the National Marrow Donor Program, "Be the Match," because I signed up for it about a decade ago; it seems that there might be someone out there who would benefit from slurping the delicious cells from within my bones.
Over the course of the interview and health questionnaire, fun was had.
Q: "Have you, in the last five years, had sex with someone in exchange for payment?"
A: "I made tea afterwards, but that's correlation, not causation."
Q: "Have you ever donated organ or tissue samples?"
A: "Not to my knowledge, but that whole weekend in Vegas is kind of hazy."
Q: "Did you wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a note?"
A: "No, it was Jell-O."
Q: "Have you ever had [long list of cardiopulmonary illnesses]?"
A: "I don't actually have a heart."
So, I go in for blood tests in a week and a half, and, sometime in the next three to six months, if I'm selected to donate, that happens in one of two ways.
- 75% of the time, donors go on a course of medication that will cause the marrow to go into cell-production overdrive, and after they're full and flooding the bloodstream with the overflow, donors get hooked up to an apheresis machine for a few hours to draw the blood out, filter out the marrowy goodness, and put the blood back in. Apparently, the production of marrow causes, literally, a bone-deep ache, but it's only for the five day course of medication.
- 25% of the time, the marrow is extracted directly from the iliac crest via big honking needle and shop vac under general anaesthetic as an outpatient procedure that doesn't even result in needing stitches.