University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Business student Jonathan Dudzinksi is only 23 years old, but he has already been given the opportunity to do something most will never have the chance to do: save a complete stranger’s life.
Dudzinski, who is studying accounting and finance, recently traveled to UW Health in Madison and donated his bone marrow through a peripheral blood cell donation. In an outpatient procedure that took about five hours, Dudzinski was able to provide the recipient with his much-needed healthy marrow.
“Many patients never find a donor. I was lucky enough to be that person for one recipient and it gives me great pride to be able to have played such an important role in another person’s life,” said Dudzinski.
After registering for the National Marrow Donation Program (NMDP), Dudzinski found out he was a match and agreed to donate. Donors are not contacted until they have been deemed a match with a recipient in need. Though he’s been on the registry less than a year, he has been deemed a potential match twice and has had the opportunity to donate once. Now, after knowing how simple the procedure is, he would gladly do it again, he said.
“My donation may very well cure one person of their illness. I’d call that a dramatic and tangible result,” Dudzinski said.
There are two different procedures for donating bone marrow. Dudzinski did a PBSC donation that was minimally-invasive and is comparable to donating plasma. In the days leading up to the donation, Dudzinski received filgrastim shots, which caused the amount of bone marrow in his bones to increase. While this caused some mild bone aches, the actual donation procedure went quite smoothly. After a good meal and a nap, Dudzinski said he was back to feeling like himself.
The other option is a marrow donation, which is a surgical procedure where the marrow is withdrawn with a needle from the back of the pelvic bone. This procedure is slightly more invasive, but the recovery time is still minimal. It is up to the recipient’s doctor to decide which donation process will best benefit the patient. All expenses associated with each procedure and any preliminary tests are covered by the NMDP.
Approximately 1,000 people die each year because they do not find a bone marrow match, according to the Institute for Justice. Only about 30 percent of patients who need bone marrow transplants are able to find a match within their family, according to NMDP.
“For me, joining the NMDP was a no-brainer. The math is simple: a few weeks of discomfort for me for a few decades of life for the recipient. Donating marrow is a simple way to make a significant and positive impact on someone else’s life,” said Dudzinski.
Dudzinksi registered to become a donor after receiving an email from a fraternity brother about his high school baseball coach who was diagnosed with a myelodysplastic syndrome and needed a donation. The baseball coach didn’t find a match in time, but Dudzinski hopes to raise awareness and help save other lives.
Because of the strict regulations placed by the NMDP, Dudzinksi does not know whom his donation went to. Anonymous letters may be sent in the first year and must be handled by the NMDP. After the first year, if both parties agree, they are welcome to exchange information and find out more about the other person.
To find out more about the NMDP and bone marrow donation, please visit http://www.marrow.org/.
Story written by Katelyn Zima, College of Business.