Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Rower Needs Help!

Last week, I received an email from the Lake Washington Rowing Club (I'm a member, though my recent rowing has been sparce due to commuting and my husband's Home Dialysis requirements.).

One of the rowers in our Club has been diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, and he needs a stem cell transplant.

In the "Kidney Community," we are well aware of kidney transplants. My husband, Steve, received a living donor kidney from his benevolent niece, Teresa Duffin. Because of a host of reasons, Steve's transplant didn't work, and he is eyeing his friends with type A or O blood to help him try again.

Stem cell and bone marrow transplants are needed for the treatment of leukemias, lymphomas, and multiple myeloma. Here's what I learned about the simple screening process for stem cell and bone marrow transplantation:
  • Go to your area Blood Bank for screening (In Seattle, access the Puget Sound Blood Center by calling 1-800-366-2831x1897, or log on to
  • You must be between the ages of 18 and 60 to donate.
  • You fill out a simple medical history questionnaire.
  • Then, you collect your own sample of cells from the buccal (pronounced "buckle") mucosa--the inside of your cheek. You simply swab four designated areas. No needles, and no pain!
  • Your sample is sent to a National Registry Laboratory, and you will be notified if your HLA (tissue) typing matches a patient awaiting a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.
  • Testing does not obligate you to go through with a donation.
  • There is no fee for testing or donating stem cells or bone marrow.
I hope it's obvious that I'm not encouraging Dialysis Patients to be tested! But in the world of renal failure, we have greater-than-average community awareness of the gifts of tissue or organ donation.

I hope others will join me in taking the twenty minutes it took to get screened and registered.

Maybe we can help the LWRC rower. Take care, Linda Gromko, MD

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