When University of Wisconsin-Madison junior Cal Melberg attended a bone marrow registry drive at his girlfriend’s request, he had no idea he would soon be making a donation that could hopefully save a woman’s life.
Melberg attended the drive hosted by UW-Madison organization Student Emergency Medical Services in May 2013, and four months later he received a call from a man in New York notifying him his bone marrow was a potential match for a woman with a condition known as preleukemia.
He added Melberg would have to go through a series of injections in the coming months and asked whether he was still interested in donating. Despite the painful medical procedures he would endure, Melberg decided he was definitely still interested in moving forward.
Later, he was told he had about a 10 percent chance of being a perfect match. Once the program that sponsors the registry drive, Delete Blood Cancer DKMS, identifies someone as a match, they then double check that nothing in the donor’s marrow could cause the recipient to reject it, Melberg explained.
About a month later, he heard back from DKMS and discovered he was a perfect match.
He also said there is an opportunity a year after the donation, if both are healthy, to exchange contact information with the recipient. Melberg said he would “love to meet the person he was matched up” with, if she agreed as well.
He said the whole process has been “pretty crazy” and somewhat painful, but definitely worth it. As part of the process, he recently traveled to Duluth, Minn., for doctors to take 12 vials of blood, a urine analysis, x-rays and conduct an electrocardiogram.
Melberg said he was originally scheduled to donate two days before Thanksgiving, but the woman delayed her chemotherapy, the time when they inject the stem cells obtained from the injections, so he will be unable to donate until the next month or two.
Melberg added SEMS is hosting drives all this week for the registry, including Monday in Dejope Residence Hall and Wednesday in Gordon Commons and at the Southeast Recreational Facility.
“Its an awesome thing to get behind, anytime you have a UW organization fighting blood cancer, it’s great for the school and great for [the] people involved.” Melberg said. “Because of that drive I have been matched, and because of the club some woman is hopefully going to be saved.”