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Mar 19, 2018

From Russia with Love: The Argentine Story

                                                   Dear Friends,

New year is gaining momentum, and with it - our work! We continue recruiting campaigns and begin thematic classes about bone marrow donation movement for 11th-grade students Petrozavodsk. Our volunteers successfully made their debut at the University Lyceum and Gymnasium 30 and are waiting for invitations to other schools of the city. We hope that now the theme of bone marrow cell donation will become closer to high school students and won’t scare them away of doing this good deed in the future.

Since the beginning of 2018, the Register has been replenished by 54 donors. Now Karelian Registry counts 4318 donors and receives more and more requests for bone marrow donors from all around the world. In 2017 we received 32 requests, majority of them came from abroad. Four donors from our database turned to be fully compatible with patients. One donation was undertaken on March 2018, and two cases are still in work.  

Statistics is indifferent, heartless, it tells you practically nothing, right? We want to share with you one story, we call it “The Argentine story”, to show you what those numbers are about.  

Registers are strong by their sizes. The more donors – the more chances to find a matching donor. We are consistently growing but we are still a tiny registry in comparison with giants from Germany or USA. When we receive a request from abroad, usually it means there is no a 100% matching donor in the world biggest registers, and small registries are involved into the search in hope for miracle. And sometimes miracles happen.

In September 2016, during one of our recruiting campaigns, a new donor, a resident of Petrozavodsk, was included in the Registry. And in the end of November 2016 we received a request for the donor from Argentinian search center for 3-year-old boy. This new donor was fully compatible with the boy. Prior to The new 2017, Argentines sent a request for confirmation of the donor's type, which was to take place in New York, USA. After 1.5 months, we got the result, confirming that our donor is fully compatible with the boy. Then the long silence came.

A year later, in the end of November 2017, the Registry received a letter from Argentina with request to provide survey data of the donor for infectious diseases. The donor agreed to a further examination, and, after receiving clarifications from Buenos Aires, we proceeded with examination. To the end of December the donor’s results have been received and in January 2018 the donor passed the full examination by doctors, specialists in different areas.  Meanwhile the Registry had been resolving issues with the clinic in Germany that would collect donor cells, and other numerous organizational issues.

In the morning of February 25th 2018 donor got a plane to Berlin, and visited a private clinic on the 26th morning, where the doctors did check up again.  On the 28th morning the donor got the final verdict on the validity of her as the donor. The checkup showed that everything was fine, i.e. the donor was healthy. After 5 days of the donor’s stimulation, on March 5th, the cell sampling was done. Immediately, the courier with the container, where the donor’s cells were kept at minus 4 degrees on Celsius, went to the airport, took the plain from Berlin to Frankfurt, and then the direct flight to Buenos Aires. Just 16 hours on the road, and March 6th at 8 am the courier passed this container to the clinic, where the same day TKM was performed.

 While there were those events in Berlin, in Buenos Aires, from February 28 the boy had been undertaking deadly chemotherapy (called conditioning) to suppress his bone marrow and thus be prepared to accept a donor cells. And God forbid, if something happened during these days (from the 28th to the 5th) in Berlin - a disease or injury of the donor, or something else that would prevent the donation - the boy would die...

The transplantation of bone marrow was successful. Though having a lot ahead to overcome, the boy was given the second chance for life.  So many people worked so hard to make it happen.  

There is nothing miracle in making miracles, there are just good will and actions of indifferent people there. We decided to tell you this story to let you know that all of you are participants of it. Even if you donated only once, even if it was tiny sum, it still helped us going forward and growing the bone morrow donors database. You all are miracle makers, do you know that?

               Thank You for Being with Us and God Bless You!

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Dec 22, 2017

We successfully End 2017 Year!

                Our Dear Friends! Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

      We wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with joy and happiness!

                 Thank you for your support and loyalty to our cause!

The year 2017 is almost over. It was busy, hectic, and successful . Here is our latest news of the year.

In November we held a big recruiting compaign, which was attended by 123 people. One hundred eleven new potential donors were recruited during the campaign. Traditionally it were mostly women – 93 of 111 people. We wonder if this tendency will be reversed one day and we have more men-potential donors? Five cities of Karelia, and also Moscow, Ivanovo, Saint-Petersburg, Kotlas, Severodvinsk, Voronezh were participated in the campaign. Thank you all, caring people!

On Saturday, December 16th, in the Youth Cultural Center of city of Kondopoga, the last campaign to recruit potential bone marrow donors took place. The organizers of the action were members of the Youth Association "Oatmeal" under the guidance of a teacher Alina Yarovoy. This was our first experience,  when school students voluntered as recruiters, and we must say that it was a good experience! Students learnt in the practice how  to communicate with prospective donors,  to check the completion of documents, to explain how to take swabs and to finally say "Thank you!" As a result, another 14 people became potential bone marrow donors,  and it was a nice way to end the year!

The year 2017 turned to be good for us  in terms of recognition of our work. November 30th  the Karelian Registry was rewared with a Thank You Letter and a Diploma of The First Degree for the victory in the Contest of Public Annual Reports of socially oriented noncommercial organizations of the Republic of Karelia and for implementing projects in the sphere of interethnic and interfaith relations. It is important for us: we have won it here, in Karelia, where we work.  This is recognition of the importance of all that the Registry has done for all the years of its activity.

We hope you continue to support us in the next  year. Together we can do anything!

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Oct 30, 2017

My Volunteer's Happiness

Human is a creature that by nature rejects all the unpleasant, scary, and that's fine. The disease is unpleasant, leukemia is scary. No one will voluntary read and listen about leukemia, bone marrow donation, and transplantation until the trouble affects him or her personally, even only tangentially. So it was with me.

 

I, like many people, was in blissful ignorance until a tragedy happened with a son of my classmate: he died from leukemia. A few years later I was surprised to learn that there is a registry of bone marrow donors in my city Petrozavodsk, and it is one of the first registries  in Russia. And that's all. I didn’t have even as second of doubt: I had to be in the Registry.

 

This is the unpretentious story of my arrival in the Registry. Since then I have been a volunteer in The Karelian Registry of Bone Marrow Donors. It has been a happy time. Though, probably, a combination of the words "happiness" and "leukemia" sounds at least strange. And yet these years have been filled with meaning and very valuable content. What are they built of? Of meetings, successes, disappointments, insights, downs...

 

Remember how I got an idea to tell youth about the Registry, "eye to eye", to dispel fears and debunk the myths surrounding bone marrow donations. Young people are only in the beginning of their life, and they need to know that the victory over leukemia in their hands. And I went to the students. Remember how I was worried before the first meeting, how prepared and searched for words. Remember fifty pairs of wary eyes: they knew that I was going to talk about bone marrow donation, but they had no idea what it was, and were drawing in their minds terrible pictures with a drill, drilling their spines... I remember after my first words, "I am a potential bone marrow donor and I am standing here in front of you, alive and well, and no one drilled my bones," a lightweight exhale ran through the audience. The ice melted, and the conversation turned out very emotional and intense. But the main thing happened later. I knew that it is necessary “to sleep” with this information, to have a lot to read and ponder. It is necessary to realize the degree of responsibility for the decision to join the Registry. But that night a very young boy approached me after the meeting with a question, "I turn 18 years old in a week. Where do I come to join the Registry?" It was the first bone marrow donor recruited by me. Later, there were other audiences, other events, meetings and donors, but I will never forget that boy.

 

I remember another big action in our University, when more than 100 University students became potential donors. Two students - sisters happened to be the most valuable donors for me. They were my school students a few years ago, and I told them about bone marrow donorship in the class. Becoming college students and learning about the campaign holding at the University, they came to the meeting and became one of the first who joined the Registry. My volunteer happiness is building of the situations like this.

 

The Registry is his people.

One of them is an optimistic Natasha whose new bone marrow has been donated by the donor from Italy. He not only gave her his stem cells. He gave Natasha the second chance for life. He gave Natasha’s little daughter - her mother, and her parents - their daughter... And now she is our main propagandist and advocate of bone marrow donorship. Laughing, she calls herself "live advertisement of bone marrow donation".

The Registry is Andrei and Lena, the organizers of the bone marrow donor movement at the Petrozavodsk University. All our actions, flash mobs, cranes and many, many more are possible and happens thanks to them, their enthusiasm and energy. The Registry is Anton who lives in the most isolated corner of Russia, in Chukotka. On the edge of the earth, he has recruited new bone marrow donors. Because it's right thing to do. Because it is necessary.

 

The Registry is his history.

This is the story of a three-year old Mirik, whose donor was found abroad, the money for the donor was collected by hundreds of kind people, and two weeks after the transplantation, we received typing results from the last recruiting campaign: one of our new donors was fully compatible with Myric. All the months of the boy’s illness his potential donor was there, in the same city, but we didn't know and looked for donors in the international database... Thank God, we have found it! But if we have not?

 

It is a tragic and heartbreaking story of 28-year-old Andrew, killed by leukemia: the compatible donor appeared in our Registry a month after the death of Andrew. We tried hard to find a donor for Andrew around the world, but we failed... He left a wife and little daughter...

 

I don't know what else I can tell and what it is necessary to tell so that all understand: the rescue of patients with leukemia is a duty for each of us.  This disease can trap anyone. When we are together, we can fight.

 

I have been asked many times, "Why do you do this?"

In short – it is necessary to do, that's all. If to go slightly into detail, there are words in my favorite "Little Prince": "Each should be asked to give what he can give." I will allow myself to paraphrase these words: “Everyone should give what they can.” I give what I can give. I do help the Registry, because my want, can and must happily combined here. All together we increase the chances of patients with leukemia. How do we do it? Just go to people and tell what everyone needs to know about bone marrow donation – "eye to eye". And it works: fears go away, the myths debunk, people come to the Registry to save somebody’s life one day, when it will be necessary. There is no other way here:  we are humans and we help each other.

 
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