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Opportunities for Life

Date: 10/6/2011

Over a year ago, in August 2010, Amanda Parker donated PBSC to a young gentleman suffering from leukemia that required a bone marrow transplant. Though he has since passed away, the experience changed her life forever, and opened the door to both spiritual and personal growth. Because of her donation experience, Amanda started to grow in her faith, and she started a religion-based blog. Recently, she wrote an entry discussing how the donation process brought her closer to faith and encouraged her to live life more richly:

July 29, 2011

On August 4, 2010 – a year ago, next week – I received a phone call that changed my life. It was the Gift of Life Foundation informing me that I might be a candidate for bone marrow donation. After rounds of testing that spanned two months, it was decided that I was a match and the procedure was scheduled for October.

To say that I have always been this religious/spiritual/what-have-you would be false. In high school, after a traumatic church-split (a story that will most likely emerge later) and other various factors took hold, I gave up religion. For a while, I even gave up God. I don’t feel like this is particularly unique. In fact, a quarter of my age cohort does not identify with any religious belief and even fewer attend religious services. This call changed all of that for me. There is no word to describe the feeling I felt when Gift of Life told me that I could possibly, with one simple act, save someone’s life in the most literal sense possible.  I did something I hadn’t done in quite a while – I prayed.

As the months before my procedure progressed, I prayed every day for the 26-year-old leukemia victim I called “John.” I did more yoga. I went to religious services. I repaired broken relationships. I sang. I took care of my body. I fell in love. My faith grew for an untitled, uncategorized but generally merciful and benevolent god that gave me such a beautiful opportunity. I donated peripheral blood stem cells. I traveled to southern Africa. I started this blog.

I got an update on John’s recovery about six weeks after the procedure. He was doing much better, I was told, and things were looking positive. I continued to think about John every day, began to imagine what he might look like, where he might live, what he does for a living, what his family may be like. I also thought about what it would be like when the year of confidentiality expired and we could introduce ourselves to each other. I hoped he would want to meet me. I hoped he would be happy.

I’ve heard that, oftentimes, spirituality is about loss. I would revise that and say that, oftentimes, spirituality is about hope and that hope and loss are very closely related.

I got a call on Tuesday from Gift of Life. They said John didn’t make it. And I cried, and cried, and cried.

I’m feeling a lot of things right now, but at the end of it, I suppose the ultimate feeling is gratefulness. My hope for this man allowed me to live the past year to its fullest, to appreciate my health and vitality, and to enjoy the richness of life and the beauty and love that surround us all. I truly hope that he had the same opportunity.

I encourage each of you to swab your mouths[…] A friend asked me if I’d donate again and the answer is, hands down, yes.
My closing thoughts – Every opportunity in life is a risk. But if you don’t take the risk, there is no opportunity for life.

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