August 8, 2013 at 2:25 p.m.

Lindstrom Navy man donates life-saving stem cells in DOD program

Lindstrom Navy man donates life-saving stem cells in DOD program
Lindstrom Navy man donates life-saving stem cells in DOD program

When you serve in the military your name becomes part of a massive database... there’s no end to your country’s on-going ability to track your location, rank, skills earned, among other things. But, little did Andrew King, of Lindstrom, realize, one list his name was placed onto when joining the Navy, would end up giving him the opportunity to save someone’s life. King, 24, is now a Steelworker Second Class in the Navy Seabees, stationed in Gulfport, Mississippi. He was completing Navy Boot Camp in 2009 when he volunteered to be listed for bone marrow donations through the C.W. Bill Young Dept. of Defense Marrow Donor Program.

King says, “A lot of people volunteered. They took a few cheek swabs and that was it. It was pretty easy.” Then King recently got word he was a preliminary match for an unidentified patient. He was advised this put him at a one-in -10 probability to be an exact stem cell match, but further tests were required, which he enthusiastically consented to. King added, “I was very surprised (after the next round of tests). Not only was I an acceptable match I was a 100 percent perfect match.” Just last week he underwent a stem cell donation procedure at Georgetown University Hospital. He doesn’t know who gets the donation, but after a year he’ll get a call. “I can decide then if I want to know the identity of the patient and if I want the patient to know who I am,” he explained. The only thing he knows is the recipient has a form of blood cancer and that this donation could potentially be life-saving. The process called for King to fly from his homeport in Mississippi to Washington D.C. for an exam and more specific tests.

His stem cells were to be collected directly from King’s blood, rather than his bone marrow. According to the program’s website www.dodmarrow.org there are two types of donation procedures-- bone marrow and this Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC.) King got daily injections of a synthetic horomone, over four days, to increase the number of blood stem cells in his body prior to his scheduled donation procedure. A fifth injection took place the day of the draw. From when he was notified to the date of the donation procedure was about two months. King’s blood passes through a machine that seperates the blood stem cells from the blood and retains just the cells. Blood product is actually returned to his body. Recovery shouldn’t be a problem, mostly bodyaches and headaches are associated with this procedure. King is expecting to be deployed soon with his unit, NMCB-11, a battalion specializing in contingency construction, disaster response and humanitarian assistance. * Information compiled by Mass Comm Specialist First Class Jonathan Carmichael


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