Para leer en Español visita es.jjuan.me
Going through this experience can be really life changing and humbling in so many ways…
It’s been more than twenty-four years since I first left the small town where I was born and raised, CASTALLA in the province of Alicante ( Spain). I then started to travel the world. First in the lovely Valencia for my university years and later in endless-party Madrid, amazing Auckland ( New Zealand), terribly quiet Newbury ( UK) and for the last four years the mega-innovative San Francisco Bay area.
While these frequent moves can sound very common to many North European or US people, Spanish are usually much more attached to their birthplace and family. I just seem to be a bit too curious and “detached” ( “CULO DE MAL ASIENTO” is my mother’s description for it)
Living and working in many different parts of the world has allowed me to experience amazing places, cultures and people, but I’ve been missing the growth of many of my cousins. Being one of the oldest, I met some of them when they were just babies, and most of them are already married and with kids!! I may have seen them very briefly in this period, but missing most of the natural family interactions. Yes, the big majority still live very happily in the same small town. Where else, right?? 😉
Last week I got in contact with some of them as they had been offering to help in ANY POSSIBLE WAY. We discussed several things including the situation with my siblings, who ended up not being compatible for the Bone Marrow transplant, and how the search is now ongoing via the Global Donors Network.
Instantly the idea came out. Why don’t we TEST THE COUSINS?
To be honest, the chances are even smaller. And doing a “private testing” would not be an easy option so the best option would be for them to register as BONE MARROW DONORS and then try to agree with the test center to check compatibility with my HLA type ( the proteins in my cells that determine compatibility) faster that the usual process, which usually takes take months.
The good news is the test center team in Spain have been supportive ( helped with the agreement from my transplant team here in Stanford) and we’re GOING AHEAD with this plan.
This weekend eleven of my twelve cousins will go in a “GROUP EXPEDITION” to the test center to register themselves as Bone Marrow donors. The remaining one is currently pregnant so not a good time for this process. This may not benefit me directly ( remember compatibility is very tricky with 1/40.000 chances per donor), but it may benefit someone else around the world in the future. If one of them end up being compatible that could save that person’s life.
I’m VERY PROUD AND THANKFUL for these guys initiative! And proud of so many of you who have joined Bone Marrow Registries in your countries ( Germany, USA, Spain, Italy, France, Australia, NZ… and the list keeps growing)
For more information on HOW TO BECOME A DONOR, please visit this previous post