Myelofibrosis survivor: Stem cell transplant gave me new life — and a new brother

When I was told I needed a stem cell transplant in the summer of 2015 to treat my myelofibrosis — a rare type of bone cancer — I thought it’d be just like a blood transfusion. I’d take a few hours off and be in and out of the hospital the same day. As I learned, it’s a bit more involved than that. Identifying a stem cell donor to treat my myelofibrosis The first thing I had to do was find a donor. But I only have one full sibling: a sister. She came down over Fourth of July weekend to take a compatibility test. It showed she was only a 50% match. My doctor, Uday Popat, M.D., said he’d prefer a perfect match. Because I was not in critical condition, we had a little time to search the national bone marrow registry. It turns out that I’m exceptionally lucky: I had not just one, but two perfect unrelated matches. One was a 19-year-old white male, and the other was a 24-year-old white male. I chose the 19-year-old, and we set a date for my stem cell transplant: Feb. 3, 2016. Then my parents and I relocated to Houston for six months. Never too young for altruism When I was 19, the furthest thing from my mind was saving a life. So, I was very grateful for my young stem cell donor’s altruism. When the registry said I could write him a note, I did. The note had to be anonymous, so I just told him how honored I was that he would share such a precious gift with...