Thursday, January 08, 2009

I'm Number One

Doesn't sound like a very humble title for this post but you'll understand when you finish reading.

In 1996 I was accepted into the IBEW JATC - International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Join Apprenticeship Training Committee. Yeah, its a fancy way of saying I became an apprentice electrician.

During this six year ordeal we were often encouraged to give blood when the Red Cross came to visit. As one journeyman electrician told us, "you can give blood out of your arm or out of your nose but one way or the other you're giving blood." Needless to say, I gave blood. What choice did I have? Plus it got us out of class.

During one of these sessions, or perhaps it was another event altogether, we were asked to consider becoming candidates for becoming a bone marrow donor. I signed up without giving it any thought and forgot about it completely until earlier this fall.
In October I received a phone call telling me that I was a possible match for a 21 year-old male with Leukemia. It took me a while before I finally realized what they were telling me because that had been about 10 to 12 years ago. In that time I had moved 4 times, had 3 different phone numbers, got married, etc. I was amazed that they could track me down. Maybe a bit scared too. Homeland security should consult them on their procedures!

I agreed to give more blood samples and did so in November. I received a call in early December telling me that I was one of just a few that the doctor thought would work well for this young man. In fact, I was the second in line. They asked me about my medical history and wanted to know if I was planning on doing any travel, etc., in case they needed to get in touch with me.

I never thought much more about it until Tuesday when they called me at work and told me that the #1 person had not worked out and that now I was at the top of the list if I was still interested. I told them I was and so here I am, nervous but excited at the possibility of being able to help save a life.

They don't want my bone marrow so as of right now it won't be a surgery. Rather, they want my stem cells. After a phone consultation this Friday and a complete physical next week I will begin receiving a series of shots. The drug I will get is supposed to make my body produce a large amount of these specific stem cells. After 5 days of this I will go in so that they can remove the excess cells. In simple terms, they'll take the blood out of my body through one location. It will then pass through a machine that will extract the stem cells and the blood will return into my body through another location.

I am nervous so I ask for your prayers. The drugs are pretty much guaranteed to make me feel pretty crappy for a while so my family will need your prayers as well. I'll try to keep everyone up to date on the process over the next month or so and hopefully with God's grace this will save a life. What a great opportunity to imitate Christ! I am thankful for it. Thanks for the prayers!

5 comments:

Matt said...

W O W. I'll pray for you and the family and look into joining.

James M. Hahn said...

Thanks for the prayers.

SRMcEvoy said...

James that is fantastic. I had the opportunity to donate a year and a half ago. I wrote a three part series for the university newspaper:

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


And just this past fall the recipient and I exchanged emails and a followup article ran today.

Prayers for all involved.

Steven

scmom (Barbara) said...

Prayers for you and your family. Before kids, I worked for the American Red Cross in blood services and had hopes that I would be a bone marrow match, but never have been. I used to donate white cells and platelets for patients with diseases such as ALL, and preemies in need of CMV negative blood products (you may be familiar with those from Catherine's hospital stay). It is a wonderful thing to be able to donate, freely and fairly painlessly, to sustain life in another person. God bless you.

Coletta said...

Praying :)
thank you for the rosary bracelet and the rosary keychain.

Your intentions are on my wrist :)
and in my heart.

I also love the CD on Mary and Conversion. I will be ordering the books and hope to interest local Catholic bookstore in ordering them from you also.

God Bless you guys-

The Smallest Act of Love