Dededo man honored to donate bone marrow - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Dededo man honored to donate bone marrow

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - A simple step by becoming a donor could save a person's life. To date, there's still a struggle to recruit more donors, but medical professionals hope yet another bone marrow drive will draw in more people.

22-year-old Dededo resident Rafaelito Deausen became a bone marrow donor about a year ago when he took part in a drive at the University of Guam. But it was just a month ago when he received word from the Hawaii Medical Center that he was a potential match.  "They had sent a package to me through the mail. I had to get bloodwork done at ITC. I sent in the forms and the results came in, so I ended up being the closest match to the patient," he recalled.

Deausen is a match for a 7-year-old boy needing a bone marrow transplant. He says he was briefed about procedures and he stands ready to do whatever it takes.  "The first thing that I'm doing is that I'm getting a physical there. They want to make sure I'll be okay after the bone marrow procedure. They're telling me there are two ways to donate bone marrow. One is like you're like giving blood," he explained.  "They separate your platelets and get the white blood cells that they need. So they just do that for a couple of hours.

"It's almost like dialysis and they go into your veins and remove it from your blood, so it's not intensive, like removing it from your hip bone. The one that's most effective is if they remove the marrow from the hip."

While he says his family remains a little nervous about the procedure, he says it'll all be worth it.  "The main and only reason I did it was because someone was looking. If I was the one who needed the transplant-if I was the one who needed the transplant, if I was the patient instead of the donor, I think my mom would have the reversed role, where she would be desperately trying to find a match for me," he said.

The Drive for Justice campaign was what started it all. The KUAM CareForce was instrumental in launching such efforts. Since then, Dr. Thomas Shieh has scheduled a number of drives on island. The more recent one is to find a match for 18-year-old Matthew Chargualaf.

Dr. Shieh says their goal is to recruit more donors on island, telling KUAM News, "Being a minority population, we're still less than 0.01%, Asian Pacific Islanders. The uniqueness of Guam - it's interesting because when you do a blood drive, people don't get matched as much as us. We get matches about three to four matches a month."

The bone marrow drive for Matthew will be held on Sunday, October 3 from 10:30am to 5pm at the Micronesia Mall Center Court in conjunction with the Guam Hot Rods Show.

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