Stefan J.: Millions of cells to down under
I have been registered with DKMS for almost two decades and during this time I was always hoping to be able to save someone’s life in our neighborhood. Years went by and I was not asked, but then a year ago a call came out of the blue and I was called for a preliminary examination. On that occasion the potential recipient opted for an alternative treatment, but recently I was contacted again.
It did come as a bit of a surprise and, even when the prospect is no easy one, it was a goosebump moment for me. I was very happy that I could help at long last and actually save a life. I didn't know anything about my genetic twin, for reasons of privacy, but I was anyhow immediately ready to get started. The first step is a complete health check, to make sure that only healthy stem cells are made available. I got a clean bill of health, so we could start with the pre-treatment in the form of a spray cure for collection. To be honest I had to endure a few side effects: headaches, back pain and a fair amount of leg pain. But heck, what's that when it gives you the chance to save a life? The harvesting itself is performed by a machine and takes a good four to five hours, constantly supervised by several medical specialists. In the end, I was clearly able to deliver a very good result with 5.6 million stem cells (only 4.2 million were needed).
After being extracted in Cologne, my stem cells were shock-frozen and shipped to Australia for delivery to my 30-something recipient there. This information I only learned a short time after my donation. Now I have to wait and see whether my stem cells are accepted. I will be kept informed about this at regular intervals for several months. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the treatment will be successful and hope that I will be able to meet my recipient at some point, at the earliest after two years – if he or she wants to.
All in all, the entire process was very well organized by DKMS, from medical advice to collection and aftercare. I have since also joined the DKMS Donor Club, in this way I can support the organization even further. For example, by giving advice to potential donors or as an ambassador at information events. I think the work of the DKMS is enormously important, because, after all, we could all find ourselves in difficulty and in urgent need of a donor.