Friday, October 12, 2007

October 12, 2007 - Not My Type

Yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from Brenda, my case manager from the stem-cell transplant program at Hackensack University Medical Center. She told me the HLA typing for my brothers, Jim and Dave, has come in. Unfortunately, neither one is a match. Each of them is what she called a “half-match” (whether that’s a formal, medical category, or just a way of saying, “Close, but no cigar,” I have no way of knowing).

I confirmed with her what I already thought to be true: that, should it appear at some future date that a stem-cell transplant is advisable, the transplant doctors will have to conduct a search through the National Marrow Donor Program to find a compatible donor.

I knew this could be a possible outcome. With a one-in-four chance of sibling donors being compatible, and two siblings, my chances were a 50-50 coin-flip. Still, it’s a bit of a disappointment. Even though the transplant option is on the back burner for now, it would still be nice to have that extra measure of security – of knowing that a compatible donor is waiting in the wings.

According to the National Marrow Donor Program website, I’m not alone: 70% of transplant patients don’t have a compatible sibling donor, and have to rely on an unrelated donor search. These searches take a little time: 51 days on the average to locate an individual donor, and less than 2 weeks if a compatible unit of frozen umbilical-cord blood can be found. This is why it’s a good thing that I’ve gone through the preliminary registration process with Hackensack already (despite my insurance company’s refusal to cover the typing test for Dave – a decision the hospital is appealing on my behalf).

I’m very grateful to Jim and Dave for stepping up to the plate, all the same. It’s a wonderful thing to have family standing behind you.

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