Bone marrow match found in Corps of Cadets
Class of 2013 Cadet John Maxwell donates to leukemia patient
Story and photo by Kathy Eastwood
WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 16, 2013) — West Point holds several blood drives annually through the Armed Services Blood Program and the American Red Cross, where most of the Corps of Cadets, along with staff, faculty and civilian employees gladly participate.
One or two blood drives also test for bone marrow for those who wish to be placed into a database for possible donation if a match is found. Bone marrow testing is a simple swab from the mouth inside the cheeks. Results of the test are entered into a database and when a match is found, the donor is notified.
Class of 2013 Cadet John Maxwell found out last year that he was a match for a young female suffering from leukemia.
“I found out during summer break that I was a match for someone,” Maxwell said. “I couldn’t say no.”
Maxwell went through a series of blood tests and four or five injections of a medication called filgrastim, which increases bone marrow stem cells.
Bone marrow can be collected in one of two ways; the more common way is the collection of stem cells. A donor is placed on a machine that draws blood from one arm, which is placed in a separator to collect stem cells in a process called apheresis. Blood is replaced into the other arm. The process of donation may take one or two days and up to four or five hours each day.
“They told me I might have some side effects to the injections,” Maxwell said. “For the first couple of days of injections, I felt OK After that, I felt like I had the flu and it lasted a week. But the actual donation was great; I had a special television and got a photo of me holding a bag with my blood cells.”
Although the donor and recipient are not allowed to contact each other or know each other’s names for at least a year, Maxwell is given updates on the recipient’s condition.
“I get updates on how she is doing,” he said. “I got an update on her condition a couple of weeks ago and she is in outpatient care now. I am super pumped to hear that.”
Maxwell said he would donate again.
Class of 2013 John Maxwell
“It’s a lot to go through, but not that much when considering that you (helped) to let someone else live,” Maxwell said.
Both of Maxwell’s parents were enlisted, but opted out of the military before their son was born.
“My mom just laughed and said I wouldn’t like it when I told her I was going into basic training (Beast Barracks),” he said.
Maxwell, who branched into Field Artillery, will be heading to Fort Sill, Okla., this July after his graduation and commissioning May 25.