Sometimes it is easier to understand the reality of a situation when you hear the story from the real life perspective. It is easier to see the heart of a person when they share their thoughts and take you on a journey through their experience.
These stories bring to life some of the human realities of dealing with a life-threatening illness or donating to help a stranger. Both patients and donors are often unsung heroes who silently champion their cause. Read these excerpts and articles and see just a little bit into the life of the courageous.
I was MOST excited, and elated to be a match for someone. It was not even a year since I had registered that I got the call, and I have known people that have been on the registry for decades, and not been a match. My immediate next thought was, “I hope the rest of the process goes forward without hurdles.” I had my fingers crossed from then on, until the day of my donation. I truly felt like this was my calling. During my procedure the thought of the patient, and his family was foremost at all times. All I wished for strongly was that the patient live; he is/was young, and this was his one chance at making it.
Niki is an Occupational Therapist from Jamaica Hills, New York who signed up as a donor in 2005. He registered at the Indian Day Parade and became a match for a 24 year old male in 2009. “I was surprised to find out how rare it is to become a match and I was very excited and nervous at the same time! As a graduate student, my procedure was during finals week! It can be a very busy time for students. I quickly went in for my procedure and was out in a short amount of time pain free and studied for my finals the same night! If I have the opportunity to donate again I would not hesitate for a second.”
From Weehawken, New Jersey Shreepal registered as a donor at New York University in 1998. Almost 10 years later he donated his marrow and helped save the life of a girl in Singapore. “I was pretty surprised on how painless this procedure was. I played sports when I was younger it was just kind of like someone just tapping you on the hip nothing crazy and surprisingly I was at work the next day.”
“To donate or not to donate was my dilemma when I got a call from Roop Kour Jyot, a SAMAR coordinator in fall of 2007, notifying me that they found a match with my blood type with a leukemia patient and asking me if I’m ready for donation. Many years before that, I had registered into NMDP registry at a donor drive sponsored by SAMAR. When the call came, I hesitated as I was more concerned about my own health then the patient. I consulted a couple of my doctor friends and they assured me that there is no risk to my health. They encouraged me to donate because there is shortage of Asian registered donors.
I agreed to proceed and went ahead with the process leading up to stem cell donation in March 2008. Throughout the process, SAMAR and HLA Registry volunteers provided all the relevant information, support and facilitated whole process. I had minor side effects but nothing serious. My family and friends were all supportive and I recovered in short period of time. Minor discomfort and inconveniences are small price to pay compared to potential benefit of saving someone’s life. It was an enriching experience for me. I encourage everyone and anyone to register into NMDP program.”
Dinesh is systems consultant and lives in NJ with wife and two sons. He can be reached at email@example.com
“I gave blood one time and while at the clinic someone asked me whether I would allow them to take a sample for the NMDP. I thought nothing of it at the time.The next spring, I was contacted by the NMDP and told I was a potential match for someone; would I be willing to make an additional donation. OF COURSE! I was thrilled that I could be a potential match for someone in need! I knew nothing about the person who would receive my donation. I remember the representatives at the clinic assuring me that the person was in dire need. I remember thinking, “I trust you. You don’t have to work so hard to convince me.” My recipient didn’t need marrow but I still had the blood stem cells he needed.
The process moved along and during the week of the collection I had to get injections to induce stem cell reproduction. This would give me recipient the best possible chance. My stem cells were extracted over two days. There were some unpleasant moments, but I kept my eye on the prize. If I could offer someone even one more day it was worth it.
I was lucky enough to meet my recipient in July 2006; an incredible young man with a fantastic family!
There was never any question as to whether I would donate. It was just a matter of time and if needed again, my answer would be the same. My feeling is it’s not really about me. It’s about my recipient. If my message can encourage someone else to donate, then I will tell my story”
Marcos signed up for the NMDP registry in 2000 at a registration drive conducted by SAMAR at Princeton University. When he was contacted six years later to become a marrow donor, he did not hesitate for a moment. After donating, Marcos told SAMAR that “it all started when you contacted me, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to give a [person] a chance at a longer life.” He also adds that he hopes “many people would [do] the same if they found themselves in [his] position.”
SAMAR would like to thank Marcos for his selfless act and wish the patient all the best during their recovery.
Joe (NYBC Donor)
Sultan met his super hero Detective Joe and said “I am very happy to see you, to know you and have your marrow. I love you Joe. Joe you are my angel”. Joe embracing sultan said ” I love you too…I feel like a blessed man to meet the little boy who is courageous and it is like I have another son!”
It’s amazing, this is the first time two unrelated people with the same last name have matched. Patel meets Patel for the first time a year after the transplant. “Always keep hope; there is someone who is going to help you. It has given me a new outlook in life” says Jay Patel. His donor Vikram Patel said “He was happy being a marrow donor because it saved a young boy’s life. People in the community should come forward to donate this precious gift of life”.
From Flushing, New York, Derek made a huge contribution by donating his own kidney to a patient who had recovered from a marrow transplant but had kidney failure. There is a bond that just cannot be matched it’s just wonderful to have that connection with SAMAR you cannot put a price on that. It’s just an opportunity that comes along and is a wonderful experience.” SAMAR would like to thank Derek on his courageous act and wish him and the patient a full recovery.
Hemish was recruited by SAMAR to give a sample of his blood for marrow donation. He was put in the National Registry in 1998 and was contacted because his marrow type matched with a patient. That lucky patient was Nidha. Thanks to Hemish, Nidha was able to have a marrow transplant to treat her leukemia. Hemish’s donation has given her another chance at life.
Hemish said “It’s just a matter of certain happiness and sense of fulfillment knowing that you helped someone else out. It’s a fantastic experience.”
Rick became a donor in 1995, after two years of waiting he was finally matched with a patient in Brazil. “I was very excited to hear I been matched with someone in Brazil. It amazes me how someone on the other side of the world can benefit from me who is hundreds of miles away and save their life. This could have only happened through SAMAR and their commitment to help others. I feel we have the opportunity to help another human being in need; if you donate you will become a life saver”.
Bhupinder is from Upper Montclair, New Jersey and became our first official SAMAR registrant to donate to a patient on December 19, 1996. She donated her marrow to save the life of four year old boy in Israel.
“I did not have to pay for the registry, when I needed to check my blood tests to see if I was a possible match, everything was taken care of. I was provided transportation to and from the hospital. I felt wonderful! There was a sense of peace that I had made the right decision.” – Bhupinder
Dr. Ron Jacob
“Throughout the whole process I kept imagining the recipient was a family member. She now officially is.”
– PBSC Donor, Executive Director, SAMAR.
In 2014, Gayathri donated her peripheral blood stem cells to a ten year old boy who lived in India.
Jeffery is a peripheral blood stem cell donor. Both donor and recipient met for the first time at SAMAR’s 26th Anniversary event in 2018.
When Rajiv matched with his patient it was a surprise to him. After consulting with his wife, he decided right away to consent to the procedures. Rajiv has donated twice; one marrow donation and one peripheral blood stem cell donation. The first thing that went through his mind was “I will be able to save a life.” Rajiv also said “If you can help to save a life, go for it.”