With a stem cell donation, Air Force soldier Malte S. helped his “genetic twin” in the USA who had leukemia. He reports how the donation went.
Shortly before his departure for the NATO mission “Reinforced Air Policing Baltic States” in Estonia, Captain Malte S. was able to bring his “genetic twin” into the
USA make a special kind of Christmas present. He doesn’t know him personally, but his stem cells ensure that the man suffering from blood cancer in America can now celebrate two birthdays.
For almost nine years, Captain Malte S. (because he is a member of the Baltic contingent, his full name may not be mentioned) has been registered as a donor by the Tactical Air Force Wing 74 from Neuburg at the DKMS (formerly the German bone marrow donor database). Despite the low probability of only 1.5 percent being eligible, at a blood donation appointment he has
armed forces can be added to the donor file by simply swabbing the cheek with a cotton swab.
Malte S. received a message from DKMS in early December
Because in Germany alone 30 people develop blood cancer every day. Every 15 minutes a person receives this devastating diagnosis. Your only chance is to beat cancer with a stem cell donation. But every tenth person affected cannot find the right donor.
At the beginning of December, Malte S.’s phone rang. “With 100 percent agreement, you are the right stem cell donor for a blood cancer patient,” a DKMS employee told him. “I was very happy that I was eligible as a donor. In a further conversation, the procedure for the collection was discussed with me and an appointment for stem cell donation was made immediately, ”the 28-year-old remembers.
Stem cells are taken from a captain from the Neuburg squadron
It all happened very quickly. At the beginning of December, Malte S. had an appointment for a preliminary examination with a cooperation partner of DKMS in Dresden, where he was put through its paces.
There are two different procedures for donating stem cells. “The widespread rumor that the spinal cord is removed is not true,” said the captain. The vital stem cells that the leukemia patient receives at intervals immediately after chemotherapy are either obtained from the iliac crest by means of a bone marrow extraction under general anesthesia or by peripheral stem cell extraction, which is similar to a blood plasma donation. This procedure is used in 80 percent of the cases, as is the case with Malte S.
Five days before the collection, the captain had to inject himself with the growth factor G-CSF, which flushes the stem cell donation into the blood. “It can be compared to a thrombosis injection, it doesn’t hurt either,” he says. The two-day-long side effects are “a bit like the feeling of getting up after a night of drinking, combined with a bit of sore muscles,” explains the native of East Frisia with a laugh. “But what are two days with a little headache and aching limbs when you can save someone’s life with it?”
Malte S.’s bone marrow donation went to the USA
For the peripheral stem cell donation shortly before
Christmas DKMS organized everything necessary. The hotel was booked, and a further examination and removal planned. The day after the arrival the alarm clock rang at 6 o’clock. After having breakfast together with his wife, he made his way to the extraction facility. The collection took a total of five hours.
Due to the high need for stem cells, Malte had prepared to donate again one day later. After the donation there was a decent snack to recharge a little strength. Then Malte S. and his wife briefly explored downtown Dresden.
The Neuburg soldier can contact the recipient in two years
In the evening, Malte learned on the phone that the donation was already on the plane on its way to the USA. “Immediately afterwards, I contacted DKMS and learned that the donation is for a man over 30 in the USA. Every country has different rules for making contact, and in the USA you can only exchange contact information after two years. I can hardly wait until the two years are over and I can get in touch with my genetic doppelganger, ”says Malte. However, Malte was happy that he was allowed to write a letter to the recipient anonymously. “I was happy to take this opportunity to send a letter with Christmas and recovery wishes to the recipient via the DKMS just before Christmas,” said the air force soldier.
Maltes conclusion: “It’s just an incredible feeling to give someone a new life with so little effort. That I was able to make this possible is simply amazing. “ (no.)