When picking up the phone in late July, the last thing Shelley Swircek expected to hear was the Be the Match Bone Marrow Donor Registry calling to ask if she was willing to be considered as a stem cell donor for a 6-year-old girl. She had nearly forgotten about the cheek swab she did for the organization at a community fundraiser almost 13 years prior. However, she was happy to move forward with the process if she was deemed a suitable candidate for donation. As it turned out, the little girl was located in Switzerland and after an international search of bone marrow registries, Shelley was identified as the only suitable match worldwide.
To prepare for the procedure, Shelley was required to pass several medical screenings and donate blood. Over the five days leading up to the donation, Shelley took two injections of Filgrastim, a medication designed to increase her production of white blood cells.
Be the Match flew Shelley and her husband Chris to San Antonio, Texas, where a facility specializing in stem cell retrieval is located. She donated through a process called peripheral blood stem cell retrieval. After her donation, her stem cells were flown to Switzerland where they were successfully delivered hours later.
“Donating was so much easier and quicker than I expected, and I would absolutely do it again to potentially save a life. I encourage everyone ages 18 to 40 to get a free cheek swab kit from Be the Match because you never know when you may receive a call that could potentially save a life,” says Shelley.