This is Rafa's testimony, a 47 year old citizen of Madrid, who voluntarily donated his bone marrow. Rafa made his donation in April 2007 to a leukaemia patient who needed a transplant but had not compatible family member.
"Hello, I am Rafa, and I am 47 years old. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to donate part of my bone marrow to a complete stranger. I say fortunate because this donation enriched my soul so much. I got to know people like the medical team at the Princesa Hospital who are complete professionals, and without whom my bone marrow would not have reached the patient.
I really hope that this patient is now as healthy as I am. The donation I made caused no physical or mental problems, neither before nor after. The support of my family was incredibly important, above all that of Gema, my partner on the journey in this life.
The day that I was told that I had to do some tests because it was possible that my bone marrow was compatible with a patient, I was delightfully surprised. When I told my family, they were all very pleased, even though I had to explain all the details as lack knowledge often causes fear.
I underwent some routine tests to check my health and prepare me for the small donation and after a few weeks, the moment arrived to go into the operating theatre. My donation was an unrelated donor bone marrow puncture* and consisted of the extraction of part of my bone marrow. The extraction took place under general anesthetic was realized by making several aspirations in the hip bone (iliac crests) with a needle.
It may seem like an important procedure but I can assure you that the only risk is the anesthetic like with any other operation. When I woke up, the satisfaction that my bone marrow was on its way to someone who needed it outweighed the slight pain in my backside. After being treated like a king in hospital, I went home to return to my daily routine.
I hope that they call me again to make another donation because there would be two people with cause to be happy; one would be the patient and the other would be me.
Thank you to everyone who works anonymously and makes the dreams of those in desperate situations, possible".
*The hematopoietic stem cells, which are what the patient needs, can be extracted using three separate methods. Firstly, through the donation of the umbilical cord of a baby, which only contains a few cells but they are very effective. Secondly, a voluntary donor could donate their cells. In this situation there are two possible methods of extraction; the way that Rafa has explained in his testimony is called bone marrow donation, the other way is called peripheral blood donation and is currently the most common form of donation as it only requires a simple apheresis.
Find more about how to register as a bone marrow donor HERE