When my older sister Jean was diagnosed with leukemia nine years ago, the doctors at the University of Michigan told her she needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. They suggested that all eight of Jean’s siblings get tested to see if one of us was a compatible donor. Although all eight of us were hopeful that we’d be Jean’s match, we were all a little nervous as well. Being a bone marrow donor is an honor, but also a huge commitment with often painful side effects.
With that in mind, all eight of us took the test and, after a few weeks of waiting, the results revealed that my younger sister Deb was a perfect match. Deb was the chosen one.
The first thing Deb had to do before gifting Jean with her magic bone marrow was submit to a physical to make sure she was healthy enough to donate. During Deb’s physical the doctors found that her blood pressure was alarmingly high. Because our family has a long history of heart disease and our brother Mick died of a heart attack at the age of 50, Deb’s physical came at a perfect time. After getting her blood pressure down to a healthy level, Deb traveled to Ann Arbor to undergo the procedure to extract the bone marrow from her body to give to Jean.
Deb and Jean went through with the miraculous bone marrow transfer and Jean’s body accepted Deb’s marrow perfectly, but only for a short time. The leukemia was too advanced going into the transfer and after a few months, our sister Jean passed away.
When I think about it, I believe that the magic of this story is that it seemed that Deb was chosen to save Jean’s life, but maybe it was really meant to be the other way around. Maybe it was Jean who was chosen to save Deb.