Teancum Jay Keele joined the C.W. Bill Young / Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program in the summer of 2000, “as a way to help other people and registering is very easy.” Active in the United States Navy, Mr. Keele was contacted as a preliminary match twice before he donated peripheral blood stem cells to a patient in 2007. “I view the donation as something along the line as giving blood; it’s not a big deal for me to do it but I know it could save another life.”
Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation involves five days of injections of the drug filgrastim, which causes the bones to release special cells into the blood, followed by several hours of apheresis, where the special cells are removed from the blood by a filtering machine. The screened blood is returned to the donor, who is awake and alert the entire procedure. “The effects of the filgrastim weren’t overbearing for me but I was a little miserable feeling flu-like without being sick. A small amount of pain in relation to the treatments that the recipient has gone through to get to this point of the process.”
Mr. Keele’s collected cells were couriered to his recipient, M.C., in Seattle. M.C. is a mother of four – who with the infusion of stem cells – was able to beat the odds and overcome acute leukemia. Donor and recipient finally met in Texas in 2012.
Says Mr. Keele: “I don’t know how to express my feelings of gratitude to be a part of such a long chain of events that ended in success. I’d do it again even if the end result was not the survival of the recipient. I’d do it again even if the only method was a large needle in my hip bones. I have been blessed and I am blessed to be a part of something greater. My oldest daughter wants to register [to be a donor] when she is old enough and I’m glad to be able to be that influence for another person.”
We extend our thanks and gratitude to Teancum Keele and the many other heroic donors who are saving lives and offering hope.