Thank you to Moms Council member for last week’s question: It seems that people were busy prepping for or celebrating the holidays and didn’t have time to respond. I was caught up in the holiday rush as well, but was stopped short by an email, which read in part:
“I need your help. Kyle Crawford is the four-year-old son of a close high school friend and one of our son’s classmates at Serendipity Preschool in San Mateo. Last week Kyle was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. He is now hospitalized at Stanford's Lucille Packard fighting for his life. This has happened very fast, and Kyle and his family are desperate to find a bone marrow donor. If they don't find a match in the near future, Kyle will die.”
When I read that Kyle’s donor would have to be half Chinese and half Caucasian, my heart started to pound and tears came to my eyes. My children are half Chinese and half Caucasian. Could I ask them to do this? What if they said yes? What if they said no?
I knew that the odds of being a match for Kyle (or any unrelated patient in need of a bone marrow transplant) are great, and I knew that the donation process is relatively safe and generally causes several days of fairly minor discomfort. If I were considering being a donor, I wouldn’t give it a second thought—but thinking about talking to my children about it was a whole different story. I went to the Asian American Donor Program (AADP) website and read up on the donation process and the risks of complications, and I went to Kyle’s page and read about him and looked at his picture. I didn’t sleep very well that night.
The next day, I told my children about Kyle and showed them his web page. They asked me a lot of questions—mostly how much it hurts to donate blood stem cells, and how the collection is done. They asked if someone could be tested to see if they were a match and then decide not to become a donor. (I told them yes, but that I personally thought it would be better not to get tested if they thought they wouldn’t want to donate … because how would you tell Kyle’s family that you could help save him but didn’t want to?) I told them it was their decision if they wanted to be tested or not.
After about five minutes, they each said, “I want to do it.”
I was so touched and proud of them. But I still felt anxious … what if, by some small chance, there were complications and something happened to one of my girls? On the other hand, what if one of them could actually help save Kyle’s life?
The email said to contact the director of Serendipity Preschool, Patrice Warto, at firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information, so I had emailed her right away. As I was sitting down to write this column, I read her response. She included a list of answers to frequently asked questions, one of which states that donors must be between the ages of 18-60. I have to admit I am relieved—and I’m also sad that my daughters won’t be able to follow through on their brave decision (for a few years, anyway). After I read Patrice’s email, I also found the age requirement on the AADP website. Next to it is a link that says “if you are under 18 years old, click here.” My heart raced again for a moment, but when I clicked, it said there are no exceptions to this rule.
Many times since she decided to get tested, my 6-year-old has said, “I really hope I can save him. He’s so cute, and he’s only four, and he shouldn’t die. If I can’t save him, I hope somebody else can.” I really hope so too.
Two drives have been set up to try to find a match for Kyle in the next couple weeks:
- Saturday, Jan. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Serendipity School, 3172 Clearview Way in San Mateo
- Saturday, Jan. 14 from 12-3 p.m. at Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, 558 Clayton Street in San Francisco
For more information, visit the AADP website or call Carol at AADP at 415-515-5334.
Since there are no exceptions to the age requirement, this question is purely hypothetical, but What would you do if you were faced with the decision of registering your child to be a bone marrow donor?