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Friday, December 7, 2007

Communication To/From My Donor

Aim at heaven and you will get the earth "thrown in": aim at the earth and you will get neither. — C. S. Lewis

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Today's PRAYER
MyJournal: 10Oct07 Posting

All who follow my blog here are aware that I wrote this letter a couple of months ago to my "unknown" donor. Now, a response has arrived, which I am including below:

Here is my original letter to the donor:
October 9, 2007

My Dear Friend:

While our separate identities cannot be shared at this time, I am compelled to write this message and have it forwarded to you through my transplant team in the USA.

If you don't already know, your stem cell donation is the reason I am free of the mantle cell lymphoma and on my way to what looks like full recovery. By the time you receive this message, more than 50 days have passed since the SCT. Other than a relatively mild case of GVH (skin rash), all is well and my PET-CT scans came back with negative reports. Other tests show that the graft is fully functioning.

In a word, my lead physician says, "Incredible!" He had his doubts about our chances of success prior to the SCT because of the aggressive nature of my lymphoma. The longest period of remission I achieved was 10 weeks during the chemo phase of my treatment

I have to agree with my doctor's observation and give thanks for your gift of life. Whatever the motivation, we all like to see these decisions work out. And whatever discomfort or inconvenience you handled in order to do this selfless and most-charitable of acts, I wish for you a long life and every happiness in the world. God bless you and those like you who would help bring life and health to an unknown host.

May it be possible for us to get acquainted (even meet in person) someday so that I may extend a more personal and direct appreciation.

Sincerely yours,

A Friend for Life


Here is the donor's response, just received today. City of Hope has a policy not to reveal identities between donors and patients for the first year. So, our exchange of correspondence is facilitated directly and only through the transplant team staff. When we have reached the one-year anniversary in August 2008, it appears that we will both be allowed more direct and personal communication.
October 30, 2007
Dear unknown friend,
Thank you very much for your letter. Hopefully you are still feeling as good as or even better than at the time of writing the lines.
I decided to get registered in the organization some years ago. It is not that I knew someone who needed a transplant. In the first place, I was just hoping to be able to help someone with it. And it sounds as it it has really taken you on a better way. For me it wasn't very hard to do the transplantation -- and itcannot stand in any relation to what you must have gone through. I would always do it again.

When I was reading your letter it made me very proud and happy to learn how much one person can do for someone else. I have been very glad to hear that you are feeling better now. And it has been very nice to get this information directly from you. Unfortunately we cannot have direct contact. Nevertheless I would like to get more information about you and your life. I would be very happy if it were possible to keep in contact. And I'm very interested in meeting you one day.
I wish you all the best on your further way and hope to hear from you soon with even better news about your state of health.
Your sincerely,
a friend from ______

What we know about the donor is that he lives outside the USA and that he was 24 years old on the date of the transplant. Interestingly, Dee Dee and I were at a luncheon today in Orange County for SCAHD (The So. Calif. Asso. for Hospital Development) and one of my long-time friends from that organization remarked how well and "youthful" I looked.
Well, maybe that has something to do with my donor's age, but certainly is more of a consequence of having lost 35 pounds since the transplant and a total of 85 pounds since three years ago when I set a goal to lower my BMI after being diagnosed with Type2 diabetes. Little did I realize then that my medical challenges would soon include fighting with mantle cell lymphoma.

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