First off, how are you feeling?
I am feeling well and very blessed. I feel great about the donation and feel spiritually and emotionally fulfilled! Often the thought crosses my mind, ‘What if I was sick and the one that needed a transplant to live?’ I could only hope and pray that someone would be kindhearted enough to offer me a piece of themself. With that in mind, I was completely willing to give to someone else in that very predicament to no fault of their own. It was well worth it.
What are some of your hobbies and interests?
I am a very crafty person. I enjoy sewing/customizing clothing, making jewelry, painting, coloring, quilting and many more things alike! I am always searching for new hobbies and projects to create. One of the latest arts I’m looking into is wood carving. Aside from crafts, my other interests are nature/outdoors, traveling, holistic healing, and music.
What inspired you to become a bone marrow donor?
When I first joined to bone marrow donor registry, there wasn’t much thought that went into it. I encountered some recruiters looking for tissue matches, they asked me to join, and I thought it was a good idea. Years later, when I finally received the call that I was a match, my inspiration had evolved. By this time I had become a nurse and I felt like it was my duty to give back in a different way than I could as a medical professional. My match was in critical condition and I could not, in good conscience, deny he/she another chance at life. This small sacrifice could save someone and I wanted to actively participate in doing so.
Can you give us a crash course on how someone donates their tissue?
There are two ways to donate bone marrow. The first being a lesser invasive procedure that is similar to dialysis. The donor is hooked up to a machine that filters the needed cells from the blood. The donor is awake and experiences minimal pain from the needle puncture. The second, more invasive procedure, being surgical extraction from the bone. This is the procedure I had done. The doctors put me to sleep in an operating room, made a few small holes into my hip bones and took the bone marrow from there. It did not involve any cutting, stitches, or staples. The bone marrow regenerates naturally on its own and the entrance sites are barely visible!
What do your friends and family think of your decision to donate your bone marrow?
Most everyone was very supportive of my decision to donate. Of course, there were a few that were nervous for me and others that said they wouldn’t do what I was doing, but it didn’t change my dedication to helping a person in need. Maybe the people that were reluctant about the process before can see now that everything turned out fine and will be encouraged to donate as well.
Do you know anything about your donor?
The only information I have about the recipient is their age, sex, and medical diagnosis. For the purpose of anonymity, I will not disclose all of the specific details. To give you an idea about the severity of the patient’s condition, he/she is diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and would die without a transplant.
What does the future have in store for Matene Cates?
I am still on the registry and will donate again, if need be, to anyone else requiring a transplant. Now a few weeks after the surgery, I feel pretty close to normal. Besides very minimal muscle soreness, the pain has subsided. The muscle soreness can be compared to the feeling experienced after a mild work out. Any symptoms that I experience are adequately soothed by light stretching and a heating pad at the area of the bone marrow harvest. I have resumed my usual every day activities. Hopefully the future for me will consist of continuing my work in the Nursing profession, good health, traveling, and more crafting! Also, one day I would like to meet my bone marrow recipient in good condition and be able to develop a relationship with him/her and family.
What would you like to tell the people who are not registered as an organ, eye or tissue donor?
Time is of the essence! There are many wonderful people that need your donations to live! Unfortunately, statistics show that a majority of patients requiring transplants do not ever receive them and often other treatments are not enough. Many people’s only hope for life comes from individuals like you and me, because they do not always have the option of a family member donating. Give someone a chance! Join the registry and donate!