Healthy Stem Cells are a Selfless Gift to Cancer Patients

Healthy Stem Cells are a Selfless Gift to Cancer Patients October 26, 2023

I am not sure what led my daughter to begin donating blood. My husband had donated blood and platelets through apheresis for many years. She also did apheresis once even though they had inserted one of the tubes into her arm incorrectly.

They Found a Stem Cell Match!

A year or two ago, she gave a blood sample to be matched with patients in need of stem cells or bone marrow. Sometime in the late summer, she received a call that they had found a match between herself and a 30-year-old woman with leukemia. She decided to donate stem cells so that this woman could have a stem cell transplant.

Fortunately, she happens to work next door to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, so completed her initial tests there. Tomorrow she will begin getting shots that will help her bone marrow release stem cells into her blood prior to the donation on Monday.

On Monday, she will spend two to four hours with tubes in both arms, while her blood goes out one arm so that they can collect stem cells and then back via the other arm. Apparently one of her arms has veins that are hard to find so she is drinking extra water so that they will open more.  She is planning to take it easy this weekend as she should not be sick with the flu or anything else prior to the procedure.

Using Scrabble tiles, the photographer spells out "leukemia."
Scrabble letters simply spell the name of a blood cancer that is anything but simple to cure. Photo by Anna Tarazevich, courtesy of

The Potential Impact for a Cancer Patient!

I know that if my daughter were the one who had leukemia, I would pray that someone would participate in the matching process and be a good match for her. This woman’s loved ones are likely anxiously awaiting the results of the stem cell transplant. Stem cell transplants can be tricky and it takes about a year to know if the procedure was completely successful. Hopefully, the transplant of my daughter’s cells will restart the generation of healthy, non-cancerous cells. For some, this can cure them of cancer, and at other times there are more complications.

What it would be like to know that I had helped to save someone’s life in this way? I cannot imagine how happy I would be as a 30-year-old woman to know that I have another chance for a healthy life. This feels like a profound activity, a process that is holy.

A stem-cell transplant is much easier than an organ donation. It reminds me, though, how many people are ready, while they are alive or being kept alive at the end of their lives to share what health they have with someone in need.

I am eager to see how the transplant goes and am praying for the woman receiving the stem cells.

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