MAINTENANCE CENTER BARSTOW, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. -- A Maintenance Center Barstow employee went through a challenging procedure to donate bone marrow to a person he may never meet.
Michael W. Marino, 29, a Barstow, Calif., native, recently donated bone marrow to a 6-year-old boy suffering from cancer.
Marino has been working as a painter worker for five years at Cost Work Center 749, the Paint Shop, at MCB aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow.
He said he began participating in the C.W. Bill Young/Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program in 2004 while he was in the Navy.
“(I became a marrow donor) to help whoever might need it,” Marino said.
He had almost forgotten he was on the marrow donor list until someone from the organization contacted him earlier this year, the former petty officer third class said.
“I was surprised when I got the call,” Marino said. “I actually thought it might be an April Fool’s joke because I was notified on April 1.”
The bone marrow matching process starts with a simple blood test, according to the Website http://dodmarrow.org. When a possible match is made, more extensive testing is done first at a local medical lab, then more in depth at the C.W. Bill Young/DoD Marrow Center in Rockville, Md.
“For the first four days I just went to the donor center for half an hour each day and got two shots, one in each arm, and then I could do whatever I wanted for the rest of the day.
“What the shot does is make your stem cells leak out of your bone in to your blood stream,” Marino explained.
On the fifth day, the marrow harvesting procedure began.
“They hook you up to a machine that’s almost like kidney dialysis and get the marrow from your blood,” Marino said.
“They harvested 60 million cells from me in a six-hour procedure.”
Because of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Marino said he has to wait one year for the parents of the 6-year-old boy who received his marrow to decide if they will give him a call to let him know if the donation even worked.
“They don’t want the donor to get attached to the person getting the marrow donation and they don’t want the family of the boy to blame the donor if the marrow doesn’t work,” Marino said.
It took him about six weeks to recover from the donation.
“It’s pretty painful; all of your bones will start hurting and you feel like you’ve got pneumonia or the flu.
“For about the first four days after I got back I still had the bone pain. I was real tired for about three weeks. After that I couldn’t sleep. I’d sleep for about two hours a night,” he said.
“But I’m completely recovered now and back at work.”
As for why Marino went through the painful procedure for someone he didn’t know, he’s hoping someone will “pay it forward.”
“I never met the boy but I know someone would do it for my kid, hopefully,” Marino said. “I’m no hero. I think anybody would do what I did if they could.”
For those who are on the fence about getting on the national Be The Match bone marrow registry, Marino said it can save a life.
“I recommend that everybody sign up for it because you never know who you’re going to help. It could be a family member,” he said.
For more information about donating bone marrow, go online at http://www.marrow.org/JOIN.