Have you ever lost?

Luke?Have you ever lost something or someone that wasn’t really yours to begin with? It kind of aches and leaves a hole and you’re really not sure why.

August 30, I gave what people call “the gift of life,” through my Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC). I was excited that my cells could help fight someone else’s disease.

I found out this morning that Luke and I lost the fight.

Be the Match/National Bone Marrow Registry will not give you the name of your recipient until one year after the donation, but I needed a name. To be more personable and to make the situation more realistic for me, I began calling my recipient Luke (for the Leukemia that possessed him), to make him a person. Naming him made it much easier to fight for Luke and to give him my PBSC.

I understand the need for anonymity but it hurts to know that I can’t contact his family, send them a condolence card by name, or even learn the town where they live.

Do I have a right to grieve? It is a shame that this Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) could not have been a new beginning for Luke, this stranger in my life.

Still, it was still worth it and I would do it all over again.

If you aren’t a part of the National Marrow Donor Program, you should be. It’s easy to register, and saves thousands* of lives each year. I wish Luke had been one of them.

(And if you don’t feel comfortable joining the registry, join us to donate blood on October 27. I’ll be there.)


Read the whole story here:
How I Became a Stem Cell Donor
How I Became a Stem Cell Donor (part two)
Soon to Be Stem Cell Donor

It’s a New Year, Volunteer

*They currently need twice the donors they get. 10,000 people are on the bone marrow waitlist, and only 5,000 ever get the transplant.

Soon to Be Stem Cell Donor

I’m only superstitious some of the time. I have no problem walking under a ladder or stepping on a crack or even with black cats (I love you, Chuck).
However, I am superstitious about next Tuesday.

It’s only a week away, but so much could go wrong. I’m nervous, excited and terrified all at the same time. I am ready to scream and can’t keep this secret about the donation inside any longer.

For those that may not have read my January 2010 (part one and two) posts, here’s the quick recap. I was lying on the beach in Key West, FL when I got the call that I was officially “Luke’s” bone marrow match – aka, the anonymous recipient of my peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC). I was honored to be able to make such a difference in one person’s life. Then, a little over a week before the February 1 donation date, I received a call that Luke was in the ICU.

My donation was canceled. They didn’t reschedule.

Believe it or not, twenty months later, this month, I received another call from Be the Match saying that Luke was healthy enough to receive the donation.

So here I am: one week prior to the donation and so many emotions are going through me. I wanted to write this post weeks ago when I found out I was going to donate, but was nervous. That silly little thing called superstition and the fear that my past blog posts jinxed my donation. Will this post cause some sort of problem to occur over the next week?

Over the next week, please think of Luke. Send your prayers to wherever you send your prayers and hope that my nervous, needle fearing self will get to go to the Annandale Apheresis Center next Tuesday to donate my PBSC.

If you’re not in the National Bone Marrow Registry, check out the do-it-yourself kit to register from home. You can also come to our Blood Drive/Bone Marrow Registry on October 27 at the 16th Street J.

What a great way to save a life!

(And if you know any good superstitions for keeping away jinxes, let me know.)


Help Save Elissa! Join the Bone Marrow Donor Registry

by Erica Steen, director of the Morris Cafritz Center for Community Service at the Washington DCJCC

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my being a bone marrow donor for Luke. As you may recall, I was contacted in December and told that I was a bone marrow match. What a rush of emotions; excitement, fear, uncertainty, you never know how the procedure is going to affect you physically but it’s a great feeling knowing that you can save someone’s life.

Luke, as I named him (it is an anonymous donation), was put into the ICU just before my donation process started. My understanding, now 7 months later, is that he is still not healthy enough to accept the donation. So, I play the waiting game and hope that soon I will be able to help Luke on his way to recovery.

In the meantime one of our own, a DC Jewish Community Professional, Elissa, is in desperate need of a Bone Marrow transplant. I am obviously in the bone marrow database so we need you to join. It is a fact that it is more likely for someone of Jewish descent to be a donor for someone else of Jewish descent (but everyone is welcome to join us to register). With the help of The Gift of Life Foundation we will be swabbing cheeks and adding names (hopefully yours) to the registry. All in the hope that someone here is a bone marrow match for Elissa.

Please stop by the Washington DCJCC on August 5 between 5:00-7:30pm. You can schmooze with the 90+ people that have already said they will attend and once you join you can get yourself a SweetGreen yogurt from the SweetFlow mobile on your way out. Everyone that registers for the bone marrow registry will receive $1.00 off of their order.

Learn more about the bone marrow drive for Elissa at washingtondcjcc.org/elissa

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