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Friday, February 3, 2012

Victor King's marrow donor drive to "Save Janet Liang"

After seeing the tearful and heartbreaking video of 25 year old Janet LIang, pleading for people to please join the National Bone Marrow Donor Program to help save her life, dancer, musician and singer Victor King (aka Victor Kim) was so moved he immediately looked online for a drive he could register at and headed straight over. He didn't even put on a jacket.

Wanting to do more, he arranged a bone marrow donor drive with BBoys Anonymous and the A3M (Asians for MIracle Matches) at UC Irvine that took place on Feb. 1st. By the looks of things they had a great turn out signing up at least 150 new potential donors to hopefully find the match Janet needs by April.

My friend Chris mentioned on Facebook that Victor was a celebrity but, to be honest, I had no idea who he was. I knew he must be a really nice guy with a big heart to be so willing to help Janet, someone he's never met before. I wanted to know more so I went on Google and asked "Who is Victor King?" Well, here's a video he made that answered my question:

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has attended a live drive, ordered a home test kit or hosted a live drive on Janet's behalf. I know a lot of people are afraid of donating bone marrow because they think it's like a spinal tap procedure. But it isn't!

In the United States 76% of all marrow donated is given through a method called PBSC (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell) donation.

The picture below is my cousin Tami's donor, Scott, having his stem cells collected to send to her from Hawaii to Washington State.

Here are the basic steps to donating your stem cells through PBSC:
  1. If you are a preliminary match you will be asked to do more testing to see if you are a patient's best match.
  2. You will take a drug for several days that causes your bones to over-produce stem cells, releasing them into your blood stream.
  3. A few days later you are hooked up to an apheresis machine that removes the stem cells from your blood then sends the rest of the blood back into your other arm.
  4. You may feel a little feverish or nauseous during the donation process but from all of the accounts I've read the staff will stop the machine until the feeling passes then resume when the donor feels better. Some donors do this in two to three sessions over two to three days but my cousin Tami's donor gave his stem cells all in one day.
And this is where one of the biggest misconception about the donor program occurs. Donating actual bone marrow. So many people think that marrow is taken out of the spine with a huge needle. They think it's excruciatingly painful, but for most people it isn't very painful at all. 

For most people any discomfort they feel is a sensation similar to a bruise near the back of their hip bones which is where the marrow is removed from while they are under general anesthesia. So they don't feel pain or even remember the actual donation process.

The reason 24% of donors are asked to give using this method is because children, in particular, have better results from transplants given from the bone marrow itself, rather than collecting stem cells from the blood.

Tami's donor's stem cells arrived in Washington state from Hawaii.

Once the donation is sent to the patient, this can be by airplane when the donor and patient live in different cities and countries, the stem cells are introduced directly into the blood stream. The stem cells will find their way to the bone marrow and will establish themselves there. If all goes well they will begin producing new, healthy blood cells curing the patient of their cancer. The better the match the less likely any post transplant complications will occur.

My thanks to Victor Kim and to everyone else who has helped Janet.

Unlike many other diseases and cancers, there's something we can do to help both Janet and Leukemia patients like her to increase their odds of recovery. There's still time for us to save Janet and the thousands of other patients searching for their own life saving marrow matches.

Upcoming Drives and How to Join the Registry
No matter where you live in the United States

If you missed Victor's donor drive you have another chance to donate in Sourthern, CA. The drive is open to the public so if you know how to get to the Bell Tower at UCR please join them and/or help to spread the word:

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 11:00am
Through  Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 3:00pm

If you don't live near UC Riverside you can also order a registration kit that will be mailed to your home or you can locate live drives in your local area by using the zip code locator on the Be The Match website. If you know a lot of people you can even host a drive of your own. Be The Match will help you to do this at no charge.

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