narrative medicine


No, not that Match.  Nor that Match, either.

Yesterday, as I was walking down the hall, I was accosted by a cute guy in nursing scrubs.

“Have you registered for the Bone Marrow Donor Program?”

“Uh… no, I wasn’t really planning to.”

“Can I ask why not?”

“Well, the donation — I know the cheek swab is nothing, but I’ve seen a bone marrow biopsy and it’s really painful.”

“But they usually don’t need to actually do that anymore! Here, come with me….”

At which point the nurse led me to a registry table with a pile of colorful flyers.  Turns out you can now donate bone marrow through peripheral blood.  Yes indeedy — you take a week of filgrastim (a granulocyte colony stimulating factor) and then essentially get dialyzed: blood out one arm and back in the other sans hematopoietic stem cells. Huh.

After all that, it seemed pretty churlish not to sign up… So I did. Twenty health questions, four q-tips, and one half-hearted attempt to get me to sign up for beer pong later, I am now a member of the National Bone Marrow Registry.

This is probably the least gung-ho sign-up story ever.  Everything on the website is about how you can save a life by donating, which is absolutely true.  The truth is, I’m still a little ambivalent about having signed up. I don’t give blood either, even though I’m eligible again (wasn’t for years due to travel).

Which probably makes me a horrible person, but it’s a little like, well, like jury duty. You agree with it in principle — Yes! Everyone deserves a fair trial by a jury of their peers, hello, Susan Glaspell — but do you really want to be the one who’s called up? Yeah, I thought not.

Ok, so the analogy is strained.  Bone marrow donation is a very different process than jury duty. I may not be called up at all, and if I am, maybe the process itself will change my mind about donation in general.

But at the moment, I feel very pressured and sales-talked into it. I’m especially weirded out at myself not asking any questions about side effects of filgrastim. Which, granted, are fairly minor, but if they hadn’t’ve been?

Oh, I don’t know.  My head hurts from thesis work, and I’m free clinicking tomorrow morning.  Goodnight.


2 thoughts on “Match

  1. I got called back in the fall and I was not happy about it at first – but once there was a person who needed it, I couldn’t say no. By the time they decided they didn’t need me, I was a little excited about it. PBSC donation sounded kind of sucky too.

    1. Yeah, I expect I’ll go through a similar series of emotions if I’m called. I feel better about it than I did when I wrote this post. And yeah, PBSC donation sounds pretty annoying/time consuming, but after seeing a patient have a BM bx, I’ll do anything to avoid that!

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