Harish Kapoor - Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donor
In August of 2000, there was a booth for registering potential donors for the Bone Marrow Registry. My wife and I both registered. At the end of 2006 we got a call from The Gulf Coast Marrow Donor Program that I may be a match for an unrelated patient and they needed my consent for further testing.
My family and I were not sure what to do. The only thing we knew was that I may be able to help save a life. Now our biggest concern was how this donation would affect my life. Is it going to be painful? What will be side effects? For how long will I need to stay off from my work? Finally we decided to do the research. We talked to the primary physician and other relatives/friends in the medical field. Our research did not stop here. We talked to our relatives both here in the US and in India as well. Some were very concerned and did not support the idea of my donating, they did not know what to expect from this type of procedure, while others were very supportive and encouraging. We also spoke with my brother-in law, well known surgeon in India, who helped us in our research. We even talked to wonderful donors like, Ms. Carrie Sevier, Mr. Patel and Ms. Poonam Desai. Carrie is now in her 30s, she donated ten years ago to a little boy. Mr. Patel is in his 60s now; he donated bone marrow ten years ago as well. Poonam Desai (whom we contacted Via Dr. Vijay Mehta’s-Professor Texas A&M Medical School, Temple, TX website) donated marrow just one month before her wedding. With all the research we learned that the donation process may be little sore/uncomfortable but it may bring a smile to someone’s life, and renewed happiness and life to their family.
Finally after one week of research I gave my consent. We did not hear back from them and was told they may have found someone else as a better match.
On March 28, 2007, we got an email from the local blood center saying I had come up as a potential match for a young leukemia patient. We were told once again that my chances of being a match were slim.
On April 18, 2007 we got an email back: "Hi Harish,You have come up as a match for a 26 year-old male that has leukemia. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks so much for agreeing to come in next week."
On May 10, we went to the Blood Center and they checked my vital signs, took a blood sample to check the white blood count before the start of injections (to simulate the bone marrow stem cells).
The big day was Monday, and by Sunday I had some bone ache (I was told it is normal to have since your body is producing stem cells in blood). On Monday, My wife and I went to the Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center for my stem cell donation. Martha (donation coordinator) was waiting in the main hall. I was a bit delayed and she joked, "You are not allowed to get sick today - the patient is counting on you!". I was very lucky that the senior nurse, Billie, was there and she did a wonderful job of putting the needles in both arms without hassle as I have deep veins, and the process started. It took approximately five hours for the whole process. One can watch a DVD or take sleep medicine during the process. I spent my time chatting with my wife at my side. She was big support to me. I felt little tired afterwards, but still drove straight home, ate and went to sleep. We returned the next day for day 2 of collection and saw the doctor, Martha and Billie all smiling as they told me that I did not have to do another donation because they had collected enough marrow in one day.
After the donation, I felt tired for a couple of days, but was back to work and doing everything I used to do like mowing my lawn, landscaping and planning home projects. We recently received some good news in June: "Hi Harish, Well, my friend, I received an update on your recipient this morning. They kept it short and sweet but what they told us was good news. Your recipient has engrafted (this means that it is now your blood cells that are growing within him). They say he is recovering well and he has been discharged from the hospital. He still has to go frequently to the outpatient clinic for testing, but that is normal. I am so happy to have a good update for you. Hope you and your lovely family are well."
Today, my friends and family, even those that were reluctant to support my decision in the beginning, are very happy and proud that I was able to give someone else a new beginning. My advice is, if you can give the gift of life, please do it. I am glad I was given the chance to do that.