Theodore Roosvelt Sailor Donates Bone Marrow, Saves a Life


Story Number: NNS120414-05Release Date: 4/14/2012 6:34:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William McCann, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- A USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Sailor donated life-saving bone marrow to a 65-year-old woman March 15, through the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program.

Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Katie Samuelson gave her bone marrow to a recipient who has Hodgkin's lymphatic cancer, which is cancer of the lymph nodes.

"This hit me close to home because three days prior to my donation was my older sister's 10-year cancer-free mark of the same type of cancer," said Samuelson.

"When I was in [Recruit Training Command] Great Lakes donating blood, they asked if I would be willing to ever donate bone marrow," Samuelson recollected. "Two years later I got a call saying I was in the top percentile for a match."

Samuelson proceeded with blood work and a series of other tests to make sure that she was the best match for a recipient.

"I also needed to get a physical done to make sure I was in good health," Samuelson said. "But this program targets military personnel due to our higher physical standards."

She proceeded with the physical in Washington, D.C., to get more blood work, a chest exam, X-ray, and an electrocardiogram.

Two weeks later, she received five days of Filgrastim injections to help her body produce more marrow cells. A dialysis machine then filtered marrow out of her blood stream for about five hours.

"After they had received the bone marrow they needed, they patched me up and sent me on my way," said Samuelson. "My body had taken so well to the procedure that I was actually able to produce double the amount they needed, giving two sessions of transplants to my recipient."

Samuelson knew nothing about the recipient of the marrow except her age and type of cancer.

Donors can communicate with their recipients anonymously for the first six months and then they have the option to sign a consent form to release their names to each other.

"For me to get the chance to donate was such a huge honor," said Samuelson. "There was some pain in my back and joints, but any minor pain I went through is minimal compared to the patient who is fighting cancer."

The C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program provides an opportunity to test military members to see if they are a viable bone marrow donor. Information on the program can be found at http://www.dodmarrow.com.

Submitting your information on the national registry database can also be found at http://www.bethematch.org.

"I think that more people should sign up and be willing to help others," said Samuelson. "The chances of finding a match are rare, but the more people that sign up raises the chances of getting help."

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.

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