Family

This woman donated bone marrow and saved a kid's life. She wants you to know some things.

Your body may have the cure for someone's cancer in it. It's time to let it out.

This woman donated bone marrow and saved a kid's life. She wants you to know some things.

Have you ever wondered what it's really like to donate bone marrow?

I have.

On the website Reddit, there's a thing called AMA, or Ask Me Anything. A bone marrow donor, Kristine Sydney, took to Reddit a while ago and told her story of submitting to be a donor, matching, and donating.


There's a lot of realtalk in there and a lot of really helpful real-world info about bone marrow donation.

Instead of mystery and assumptions of painfulness surrounding bone marrow donation, there was heroism. And the knowledge that my body might cure cancer!

Neat, huh?

So let's dive into Kristine's story, and find out nine key things she wants everyone to know about bone marrow donation.

1. If you're worried about the pain of the procedure ... don't worry!

GIF via "America's Funniest Videos."

I know I've thought, "I would love to register as a donor, but I don't like a lot of pain." (Does anyone?) "I can do blood donation, sure, but needle into my bone? NOT REALLY FEELIN' THAT."

Here's how the procedure felt in Kristine's words:

"Before the procedure, though I had read about other donors' experiences, it was impossible for me to anticipate how little or how much I would hurt afterwards. Before I left the hospital, the doctor told me explicitly not to lift heavy weights or go on a long run for several days - even if I felt little to no pain. 'It's still a surgical procedure,' she reminded me. My lower back/hip area was tender for three-four days but that was it and, if not for her warning, I would have returned to my regular activity a couple days after the procedure."

After reading this testimony (and this) my brain said ... sign up. But I was still skeptical.

2. The medical procedure could turn into a beautiful experience.


GIF via MLB.

It's true that if you do match, you'll undergo some medical procedures. But you also might wind up with some new friends for life.

One of the most popular questions of this web interview with Kristine was from the mother of the child Kristine's bone marrow helped.

"Hi Kristine, first off, thank you for saving my baby! What would you say to someone who is skeptical about signing up or perhaps fearful of donating their bone marrow & is only willing to donate plasma?"

Kristine's answer:

"Mia, I'm grateful you released your information. My life is transformed by Mailyna. For those who are still fearful, I'd suggest that they check out this Reddit, the AADP video, or even the picture of me the morning after the procedure. They should read up on what the process is actually like and not be scared away by the word 'donor.' Maybe a more appropriate, friendlier term is 'sharing.' The doctors took only less than 5% of my bone marrow, so my tiny, tiny, tiny gift, which was replenished, made that difference. It's like magic — truly — how the simplest of procedures and the tiniest of Band-Aids can save a life. I consider myself so lucky to have met your daughter and your family."

Mailyna's mom's reply?

"We adore you! You & Jake will forever be a part of our lives AND our family!"

Well now. That's great.

3. Donating doesn't take that long.

GIF via "Sesame Street."

Signing up only takes about 15 minutes. Then you swab your cheek and pop the swabs in the mail. That might be all. If you get a call as a match, there's a 25% chance you'll move to the donating phase.

Kristine details what happens next:

"After you get the initial call, you go and get some blood drawn to see whether you're a good enough/perfect match. If you are the best bet, you then go for a full physical, which includes getting more blood drawn, a urine analysis, a chest x-ray, and an EKG. If you are healthy enough to give bone marrow, you wait to hear when your recipient is ready to begin chemotherapy. In the best way, being told that you are a donor is getting a gold star for being in good shape, for being healthy."

After the donation:

"It's usually an out-patient process or an overnight stay. I stayed overnight (because of nausea from the anaesthesia.) I checked out of the hospital after breakfast the next morning."

4. You don't have to be a superhero to do it.

GIF via TotalFilm.

Kristine is clearly a cool lady, but she's not, like, Mr. Rogers or Batman or anything.

"I didn't think twice about donating, and now that I've done it and I've met Mailyna, I do feel that there is a human, compassionate obligation to register and then to donate. There isn't any reason not to do it. If you're eligible to donate, you are the lucky one, because your being chosen means that you're healthy and you're literally carrying someone's cure in your blood. What a gift it is to get the call."

5. There are plenty of good reasons to donate.

How about doing it to honor someone you lost? That's what Kristine did.

"I was mourning the loss of my former student Elizabeth, who had died exactly a month before I signed up. She died of brain cancer and, on my walk home from work, I saw a poster with pictures of children, all ethnic minorities, who needed to find a match. I signed up to honor Elizabeth, who was only a college sophomore, a child, when she died. ... I registered anyway, with the hope that, if I were picked, I could, perhaps, help another child."

6. Still think it's painful? Nah.

GIF via "America's Funniest Videos."

I wanted to address the pain thing again because it was a big concern of mine.

The procedure for those who donate is usually an outpatient process or overnight stay. Kristine said she stayed overnight due to nausea from the anesthesia. And the pain? She described it like this:

"(Like) pressing into your lower back with your thumb — with medium pressure only ... for about three or four days."

Everyone do that now. Go on...

Not too bad, right? I've danced a little too hard at a wedding and felt worse pain, and the result of that dance was NOT curing someone's cancer with my body!

7. She didn't have to pay for the medical care.

GIF via "Little Rascals."

The pre-screening for bone marrow donation (and this is if you match) is a full physical: blood tests, urine analysis, chest x-ray, and an EKG.

Good news. The National Marrow Donor Program paid for everything in Kristine's case.

"The National Marrow Donor Program, which operates Be the Match (the organization with which I signed up), paid for everything, from hospital stay to the hotel room to my dinner the night before the procedure. They took care of everything."

8. You don't have to know where your marrow goes if you don't want to.

GIF via "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Some people worry they'll feel bad if they donate and the recipient doesn't survive.

Whoa. Realtalk express, coming into the station here.

Firstly, the point is not to be Superman, but to take a chance and take the opportunity. And if that doesn't assuage your qualms, the whole shebang is VERY anonymous.

"The donation process is still anonymous. We were not allowed to exchange any information about ourselves until a year after the transplant. In fact, any correspondence I sent was first screened by the Rhode Island Blood Center to make sure that I did not share anything specific about myself (name, location, where I worked.) "

You're anonymous from the start. That's very important.

"In early May, a year after the transplant, my recipient and I were asked whether we wanted to release our information to each other. We both said "yes" and, in a moment of synchronicity, Mailyna's mother Mia had hit "send" on an e-mail the second I dialed her number. In July, the Asian American Donor Program (AADP) flew my husband and me out to California where we met for the first time at Kaiser Permanente where she had been treated."

After some time, recipients and donors can choose to release their info to each other. There's no pressure to do it, but for Kristine, meeting her recipient clearly had a big impact on her.

9. Bone marrow can essentially cure some types of cancer.

Seriously? GIF via "Empire."

Your body may have the cure for cancer in it! How cool is that!

Kristine states it perfectly:

"How amazing it is that another human body literally has the potential to be someone else's cure... It's hard for me, even now, to wrap my mind around it."

This online interview with Kristine had a huge impact on me.

Not because I need bone marrow or even because I know someone who does.

It's personal to me because while I'm a blood donor, I was kinda squeamish about signing up to be a bone marrow donor. It just seemed like signing up for the most painful, paperworky, awkward, and (again) painful experience of life.

I was so wrong.


GIF via "High School Musical."

So while I was writing this, I went to www.aadp.org/homekit and asked for a kit in the mail!


"When I met Mailyna, I also met Myla, another girl who is looking for her perfect match. I wish so badly that any of the people who need bone marrow would get a call saying, 'Hi. We've activated your match.'"

I'm sharing this because this one Reddit conversation changed my mind about becoming a bone marrow donor.

And in this case, changing someone's mind could save someone's life.

True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

Usually when we share a story of a couple having been married for nearly five decades, it's a sweet story of lasting love. Usually when we share a story of a long-time married couple dying within minutes of each other, it's a touching story of not wanting to part from one another at the end of their lives.

The story of Patricia and Leslie "LD" McWaters dying together might have both of those elements, but it is also tragic because they died of a preventable disease in a pandemic that hasn't been handled well. The Michigan couple, who had been married for 47 years, both died of COVID-19 complications on November 24th. Since they died less than a minute apart, their deaths were recorded with the exact same time—4:23pm.

Patricia, who was 78 at her passing, had made her career as a nurse. LD, who would have turned 76 next month, had been a truck driver. Patricia was "no nonsense" while LD was "fun-loving," and the couple did almost everything together, according to their joint obituary.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

True

"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

Keep Reading Show less
via Elliot Page / Instagram

Elliot Page, once publicly known as Ellen Page, has announced he is transgender. The announcement makes the Oscar-nominated actor one of the most high-profile celebrities to come out as transgender.

The actor currently stars in Netflix's "The Umbrella Academy" and has acted in films such as "Juno," "Inception," and the "X-Men" franchise.

Page made the announcement on social media where he celebrated the joy of coming out while taking the opportunity to discuss the issues faced by the transgender community.

Keep Reading Show less