Words of Hope – Finding My MUD

July 8th, 2008-I left you with a teaser at the end of the last blog; Hershey Park, Blood Clots and Relapse…  I am going to prolong the wait on that discussion as it happened a little later in July, 2008.  This period in 2008 was somewhat uneventful in the grand scheme of this process, though not to say there were not issues.  That said, this “slow” period will afford me an opportunity to provide you with more detail.  I had been released in late June, 2008. I tolerated the chemo reasonably well this first round and I was still waiting to hear about my bone marrow matches.  I was scheduled to have the bone marrow transplant in mid-August, 2008.  I needed to recover from my first round of chemo and be strong and ready for the transplant.  The goal was to get me into a bone marrow transplant as quickly as possible, although this did not end up working out.  My brother was the first to be tested as a potential match for me.  It was determined that he was a 50% match.  At that time, half match transplants were not very common and were considered a “last resort”.  I think Jonathan, my brother, was pretty devastated when they found out that he was not a match.  After it was determined Jonathan was not a match, the Bone Marrow Coordinator at Hopkins started down the path of finding me a MUD, Matched Unrelated Donor.  This is a process of scrubbing my DNA against an international database of people willing to donate their bone marrow.  The likelihood of being a match for someone in need of a transplant is somewhere around 1 in 20,000 or 30,000. Only 4 of 10 people in need of a transplant will find their match.  Those statistics become significantly less within other ethnicities; Asian, African, Jewish, etc…  I had better odds than most since I was of Northern European decent.  The largest pools of bone marrow donors are in Europe; Germany, Great Britain, Italy…  I ended up having a pool of donors, several in Germany and in the United States.  Needless to say, I was extraordinarily lucky to have a “pool”.  Some people are blessed to have one.  The majority of people never find one and end up facing even more risky procedures to save their lives.   A traditional MUD bone marrow transplant is successful less than 45% of the time.  Imagine the statistics of more risky procedures???