The young woman had signed up for the registry at a Warped tour concert, inspired by one of her favorite musicians who had gotten a marrow donation from his sister, Munroe later learned.
She took medication to boost her marrow's production of stem cells, and five days later had blood drawn and the excess stem cells filtered off. After she had the blood drawn, she had a tattoo done at the needle's entry point to signify the piece of herself she'd given away, Munroe said.
In the meantime, doctors had gotten Munroe's leukemia into remission through chemotherapy. They then destroyed his immune system with chemotherapy to prepare him for the transplant. Munroe had to be kept in isolation for a month during the process, to protect him from infection.
"On the tenth day, they brought her blood into my hospital room and began to drip it into my IV," he said. "They sit there really patiently for the first hour. The first hour is a good sign of whether the body will accept or reject what's being put into it. Their hope is the new healthy white blood cells will eat up the old nasty system you had."
The transplant took, although Munroe said that his body is still recuperating from the experience.
A year after the transplant, Munroe learned the identity of his donor. He reached out to her through Facebook to thank her. They've been corresponding ever since, and he said he hopes to meet her soon.
"I sent her an e-mail and said, 'Look, you saved my life,'" Munroe said. "'You saved my wife from being a widow. You saved my children from being fatherless. You are a hero of ours.'"
A companion article on donating blood and organs offers more on what's involved.
SOURCE: Jim Munroe, Colleyville, Texas
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