There has been much focus on finding a bone marrow donor match for me. It makes sense because the sole reason I am going through all of the nausea and discomfort of the chemotherapy treatment is to destroy my diseased and dysfunctional bone marrow and replace it with someone’s healthy bone marrow. I named my blog Marrowish because of this need–a wish for marrow–and to remind myself to live a marrowish life–living a full life, right down to the marrow.

It amazes me how, because of my need, so many of my friends and acquaintances have volunteered to donate their bone marrow, knowing that the odds are way against their marrow being a match for me. Some have even wanted to set up a bone marrow drive in my name. Amazing.

I registered for the national bone marrow registry a long time ago. In fact, I had forgotten about it until my leukemia diagnosis. I do not remember why I did it. As far as I know I have never known anyone with leukemia. In fact, I was not really too sure what leukemia really was when I was diagnosed with it. And still, after all these years on the list I was never called. I suspect most people on the registry never are. That being said, I still encourage as many people as possible to register. Not for me, but for those who do not yet know that they will become inflicted with the disease…especially the children.

But there is also another, more immediate need where your help will be put directly to good use: donating blood.

During my first phase of treatment the chemotherapy drove down not only my white blood cell count, it also drove down my red blood cell and my platelet counts. As a result, I regularly had to receive both red blood cell and platelet transfusions. I suspect the same will be true during the subsequent phases. Each time I had a transfusion, as I watched the nurse hang the bags of blood or platelets and hook their lines up to my catheter, I felt a little guilty and wished that I had donated more blood. I am pretty sure that I will never have an opportunity to donate blood again.

So, if you are looking to have an immediate impact on someone’s life, perhaps an injured service member, or an unfortunate commuter, or even a scared, young leukemia patient, please donate blood and donate it regularly. Many of you certainly already do. Thank you. For those who have not, please do. I guarantee that, even if you hate needles and get queasy from the thought of it, you will still feel good about it after you are done. It is a noble cause. In fact, I would not be able to survive without someone with O+ blood taking the time out of their busy schedule to donate their blood to me. There are many, many others who are in just as much need, if not more. And I pray it never happens, but you never ever know–some day you may be the one in need.

If you’ve ever donated blood before, or if you donate blood any time after reading this post, please leave me a comment to let me know so we both can feel good about it together.

11 thoughts on “Bloodwish”

  1. Kurt,
    You know I haven’t donated blood since before I was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, I have been cancer free since then and was given the okay to donate 5 years later and still haven’t done so but your posting made me want to find the time and location to do so. Also to sign up for the bone marrow registry list just so that if needed I can help save someone!

    • Hi Lauren! It’s great that you’re still able to donate blood. Maybe someday things will change procedurally and I too will be able to donate. Thanks for reading and commenting. Please take one or two of your many friends with you when you donate and let me know after you did. 🙂


  2. Your story has compelled 12 people to sign up for the National Bone Marrow Registry. And there will be another Bone Marrow Registration Drive next week. I’ll make sure I pass along the results.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have enjoyed reading your blog.


  3. Hi,

    I am a good friend of your beautiful, talented daughter, Kiriko!
    Can I register to donate marrow specifically for you?

    – Alexia

  4. Hello Alexia,
    Thank you for wanting to donate your marrow to me. In reality, the odds are very very high that you and I will be a match so I would really appreciate it if you joined the general registry and offer your marrow to all in need, especially the children. Your doctor can easily help you donate or you can visit to find out more. And I certainly agree with you: Kiriko is very beautiful and talented!

    Thanks again!

  5. We had 81 people sign up for the bone marrow registry (13 times more than our last drive) and 183 units of blood collected. Thank you for sharing your story, and inspiring so many people to take action.

  6. Kurt,

    Donated blood today, signed up after reading your post and figured that was the least that I could do! Wish I could get on the Marrow donation list but darn that cancer. Wishing for a speedy recovery for you.


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