This I Believe

Donor 232 - Arizona
Entered on April 9, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: illness
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This I Believe

I believe in the inherent goodness of people and that most people, given the opportunity to help someone, will do it.

I was recently given this opportunity. About 6 months ago, I was informed by the National Bone Marrow Donation Program that I was a preliminary match and to contact them. I felt really excited. Despite the fact that I am a doctor and on some level, I spend every day trying to make people healthier, this felt totally different. I had the chance to directly save someone’s life. How could I ever refuse such an opportunity?

The next few months involved tests, interviews and long waits until I heard I was a near perfect match and a date was set for my donation. I learned that my recipient was a man my age with a pre-leukemia condition. He is dependant on transfusions to live. I also learned this was all I would ever know about him.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about my recipient over the past couple of months. What is the quality of his life? How did he reach the decision to proceed with a transplant, such a risky procedure with lifelong consequences? And, how brave he must be.

I thought a lot about my role in his life as well. Although I am a mother, a wife and a physician, I couldn’t remember ever feeling such an intense sense of obligation to someone before. My recipient would undergo 9 days of chemotherapy and radiation-enough to wipe out his entire immune system in preparation for the transplant of my cells. If something happened to me during those 9 days and I could not donate, he would likely die. He was literally placing his life in my hands-a stranger he would never know. Surely he believed in the goodness of people even more strongly than I did, or he could never have taken such a risk.

As the day approached, I was nervous and full of emotion. My life was consumed by the donation and it was hard to think of anything else, or anyone else but my recipient and how sick and fragile he was feeling at that moment.

The donation day was long and exhausting. And then, it was over. The cells were on their way to him and I was back in my hotel reflecting on months of waiting, anticipating, worrying and caring about this stranger.

I hope my cells bring my recipient better health and a better life. I hope my donation inspires others to sign up for the National Bone Marrow Donation Program and to donate if called upon. I do not think what I did was special or unique. People want to help people and will sacrifice to do so for no personal gain. They will give of themselves to save someone else, even a stranger they will never meet. People are inherently good, and THIS I BELIEVE!