Lala and Taleen Vartanian were of the first thirty donors recruited to be potential matches for the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry. On a weekday morning in June, these twin sisters were both told that after over a decade of being on the registry, they were finally both matches for a young 37 year old patient. After years of working with Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of ABMDR, and being active members and volunteers for the organization, Lala and Taleen now have the opportunity to save lives.
We talked to Lala and Taleen after their second phase of screening. When asked about the process, Taleen said, “I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m really, truly, excited about being so close to being a donor.”
Lala added, “It all comes full circle. We were donors in our early 20’s and now about 18 years later, we’re finally matches that will hopefully be able to save lives.”
We will be checking in with Lala and Taleen during each phase of their journey, and along the process, feel free to join ABMDR on social media to get recent news, updates or to ask questions for Lala and Taleen to answer.
Lala and Taleen are currently providing a series of blood samples for re-testing tissue type.
The process of becoming a donor is as follows.
To register as a donor: You have to be between the ages of 18 and 50, and in good general health. You will fill out a short form with your contact information and a brief medical history. You will give us a tissue sample (a few swabs from the inside of your cheek). You’re done! We will analyze your sample, determine your tissue type, and file this away with your contact information into our computer. This information will remain there till you reach the age of 55. You are now a registered ABMDR donor.
We ask that you kindly notify us and update your contact information when you move.
Registered donors: Congratulations! Now that you are a registered donor, the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry will contact you once you are identified as a possible match for a patient.
Potential match: If your tissue type matches that of a patient, you are considered a potential match. The patient’s doctor may request additional testing to determine if you are the best donor for the patient — especially when there are more than one matches found for a single patient. You may be asked to provide a blood sample for re-testing your tissue type, and to make sure that you do not have any conditions that might endanger the patient.
Actual Donor: If these tests reveal that you are in good health and still a good match for the patient, we will review the medical guidelines with you, answer all your questions, and only then, and still with your consent, will we proceed to the next step, the actual harvesting of your stem cells. For this, you will undergo a thorough medical checkup, you will be given an injection of Filgrastim, a growth hormone (to stimulate the production of bone marrow stem cells, and have more of them leave the bone marrow and circulate in blood), for four days. On the day of the procedure, you will be hooked up to two IVs, one through each arm. Blood will be taken from one arm, processed through an apheresis machine, which will separate the extra stem cells circulating in your blood, and return the rest of your blood — minus your extra stem cells — back to you. The procedure of “harvesting” your stem cells takes three to four hours, during which time you will remain fully alert and awake. You will NOT be anesthetized, there will be NO surgery, NO invasive procedure, and NO harm or danger to you. At the end of the procedure, you will get up and walk away. Your stem cells will be replenished within a week or ten days at the most. The harvested stem cells will be packed and sent to the patient.
You now live with the knowledge and deep satisfaction of having saved someone’s life. What a blessing!!! Call our Los Angeles office at (323) 663-3609 at, or our Yerevan office at (374 10) 20 83 11 at, or click here and complete the contact information form.