Winn Davis - Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donor
It all started when I was donating blood at Saint Vincent de Paul's one Sunday after Mass. A young lady asked if I would like to sign up to be in the Bone Marrow program. All I could think of initially was needles, pain, and inconvenience. I also thought "what are the chances they would ever really need me?" I did sign up, and listed my sister-in-law as a way to reach me just in case my number changed. In hindsight that turned out well. My wife and I moved months after I put my name on "the list". As life moved on, my wife and I bought a house, had a terrific little boy and she was pregnant again – really pregnant – with triplets. Being on the donor list was the furthest thing from my mind.
My sister-in-law mentioned to me one day, almost in passing, that someone called from the Bone Marrow program. They asked if I had your new phone number and she said she had given it to them. Then one night, I was getting ready to go on a run and the phone rings. I answer not having any idea who was on the other line. That is where everything changed. There was a young lady on the phone, Carrie, asking if I remembered signing up to be on the marrow donor's list. I did remember. Carrie said that I might be a match for someone. "Uh oh", I thought, "I have a lot going on right now. Work was busy, we had a one year old, and my wife was pregnant".
I ended up talking with Carrie for about 45 minutes that night. She answered a lot of my questions before I could ask them. The key one she covered was how little pain was involved. Pain is not really the issue, needles are, and I had passed on getting flu shots for years due to the thought of a needle. By the time Carrie and I finished talking I had made up my mind to go forward. I was still focusing on me, though. The other person lying in a bed in some far away land was just entering my awareness.
Carrie then turned me over to a lady named Leslie. Leslie arranged additional testing and gave me more details on the process and what all was expected of me. Through the testing process I got to know Leslie and a nurse by the name of Martha well. They are about two of nicest people you will meet and most of all they are very re-assuring. Actually, every one I met or spoke to were all exceptional people. It turned out that I was a great match for a lady that lived somewhere. I guess that is when it started hitting me that there was another person involved. Not a person with a cold, or some other little sickness, but someone who was fighting cancer and just trying to survive to see another day, or spend another hour with some one in their family.
My Grandfather passed away a few weeks before I was scheduled to donate. At his funeral, I saw family members I had not seen since I was a kid. Of course they were all so very sad to see him pass and I bet all of them would have done anything possible to spend another hour, day, or week with him. I could tell this by all the redness in their eyes and the sadness in their faces.
My two days to donate were coming up and that meant I needed to get my five shots. With my wife being six months pregnant and me helping with our two year old, Martha just came to my house to give me my shots at 7:30 every morning. I do need to add, the shots did not hurt and as I mentioned above, I do not like shots. My calendar was getting tighter and tighter, not to mention my beautiful wife was carrying around three little dudes and day to day tasks were now almost impossible for her to do. I was scheduled to go out of town for work after the collection and my first concern was will I be okay to travel and then spend three days on my feet working a conference? The answer on all accounts was yes. The collection was on Nov 6th & 7th and I heard from Leslie that my stem cells had been delivered and the lady went home for Thanksgiving. It was only a matter of time now. The fact she got to go home for Thanksgiving was awesome.
Speaking of time, my wife woke me up just after midnight on Dec 1st. It was time to go to the hospital, thankfully we live very close. They were not due until mid February but one of the little dudes wanted out now so that meant they all had to come. Our three new baby boys were born on Dec 1st at 29 weeks. It was intense and very stressful with a lot of days and nights spent at the hospital. By the Grace of God and with great medical care they all survived and are doing very well now.
After attending my Grandfathers funeral, seeing my then two year old son everyday, my wife and all she went through in her pregnancy, the birth of the triplets, and the unbelievable effort by the Doctors and Nurses it really is very simple. It is not about you or me, it is about everyone else. Sure you need to make sure you feed yourself, get sleep, etc., but the more you do for the others, the more you get, in overwhelming amounts.
I think most anyone would do anything they could to help a grieving family spend an extra year, day, or even an hour with a loved one. Donating stem cells or bone marrow does exactly that.