In November, 1991, I received a phone call from the National Bone Marrow Registry informing me that there was a young 22 year old woman on the East Coast, single mother of an infant, who had acute leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Over the next several months additional blood tests confirmed that I was a perfect match!
Finally, the news came that a date had been set for the bone marrow harvesting and transplant. I went to the City of Hope in Duarte, California for counseling on the process. Laurie (the leukemia victim) would undergo extensive chemotherapy and radiation to essentially kill the living cells in her marrow. This would be Laurie's point of no return for without my life-saving bone marrow, she would die.
The day of the procedure was scheduled. My in-laws drove me to City of Hope and I was prepped for the operation. Basically, it was just getting in the hospital gown and receiving a General Anesthesia). A needle is inserted into the hip bone and a small amount of bone marrow is extracted.
I woke up in my hospital bed with the TV images of the Los Angeles looting and burning on April 29, 1992. Fire fighters and policemen were having difficulty doing their jobs as the public was threatening their lives trying to save others. It was chaotic!
Here, safe in my hospital bed, I was able to be a participant in something so beautiful and marvelous as the medical and technological miracle of life-saving bone marrow donation, thankful for the once-in-a-life-time opportunity. And yet, the other extreme of human nature was being displayed on the TV. But I was encouraged with the news that the "package" was in flight and on its way to my recipient. They indicated that an FBI agent had to be present with the Bone Marrow courier at airport check-in and screening in order to allow the bone marrow package to bypass the x-ray machines which would render it useless.
Laurie would receive the marrow intravenously that same night. Later, I discovered that she was literally within 20 minutes of death before receiving the bone marrow, due to the unexpected delays in Los Angeles. But God's timing is always perfect. The daily hospital tests on her cell count progress steadily improved. She was released and recovered 100%! Laurie returns to the cancer center annually for checkups each year. Each time she has been given a cancer-free status.
We recently had the opportunity to meet on Nov. 19, 1998, in a national TV taping of the Leeza Show! Laurie brought her daughter, Cheyenne, now 7, onto the show as well.
Her daughter's first words to me were "Thank you saving my mommy's life." I gave her a big hug as my heart soared to my throat and rendered me incapable of logical speech. Laurie and I remain in communication via telephone.
The most important fact that I would want to convey is for people to register! At the time that I registered, the typical chance for a cancer victim having a match on the registry was 1 in 75,000. If the victim was of ethnic background, the statistics were even more grim. But from a cancer victim's point of view, the odds are zero if the matching donor is not registered. So do it today! It is such a simple process to get registered. But it is simply awesome to save a life!
NOTE: For more info on Bone Marrow donations, visit: