FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Local Business Owner Donates Bone Marrow for the Second Time
FLAGSTAFF, AZ, December 31, 2018 – Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, owner of Do Good, Be Good, recently donated bone marrow to hopefully save the life of a stranger. When Sharon was contacted by the Be the Match Registry to let her know she might be a match for a cancer patient, she was ecstatic. Sharon knew what it would mean to the patient to get this marrow because 33 years ago it happened to her sister. Sharon’s sister, Nora, was diagnosed with Leukemia at just six months old. She fought aggressive cancer for years with radiation and chemotherapy, but it kept coming back. During Nora’s fight, her little sister Sharon was born. What they didn’t realize at the time was not only was Nora gaining a little sister, she was also gaining a bone marrow donor.
Siblings are the most likely match for patients with diseases like Leukemia. When Sharon was just two years old and Nora was four, Sharon donated her bone marrow to save Nora’s life. It worked. Nora went into remission and has been in remission ever since. She was even able to give birth to a healthy baby of her own two years ago. Sharon doesn’t remember the procedure itself, but she grew up knowing how bone marrow donation had saved her sister’s life and changed everything for her family. When Be The Match called Sharon to tell her she may be able to do it again, Nora was the first person she called. Nora was thrilled.
Recently, Sharon took time out from her normally busy schedule to undergo the bone marrow harvest procedure, then rest and recuperate. There are two methods of harvesting a donation. The most common way is called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation. The process involves being given a drug by injections over five days which stimulates the bone marrow to overproduce. The blood is then filtered by dialysis, and the stem cells, some platelets, and some white blood cells are collected for donation.
The second method is a surgical procedure where liquid marrow is drawn with a needle from the back of the pelvic bone. This is the type of procedure that Sharon underwent. The doctor harvested 1.4 liters of marrow, and it was immediately sent to the recipient. Sharon stayed in the hospital overnight and was then able to recover at home. The recovery process from this type of procedure takes about two weeks to allow for the lower back pain at the injection sites to disappear. Then, it takes an additional two weeks for the donor to regenerate the bone marrow and fully recover from the anemia, which the procedure induces.
Sharon remarked, “It was strange to look in the mirror the night before the procedure and realize that I was about to go from the healthiest I have been in my life to voluntarily being weak, in pain, and unable to walk for a few days.” When asked if she would do it again, she didn’t hesitate for a second: “Of course, when you are selected to be a match for a patient it is like you are their genetic doppelganger. It is a special honor that you are the perfect fit for.” Of course, who wouldn’t want to give someone else hope and a chance at life?
To find out how you can join the Be The Match bone marrow registry, visit https://bethematch.org/ or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.
Note: To protect the medical privacy of the recipient of the bone marrow transplant in this story, the donor agency requires donors to only speak in general terms about the timing, location, and any potentially identifying information about the recipient or the specifics of the donation.
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