A HERO AMONG US

Courtney Miller, with Steele and
Courtney's mom Debbie Kordiac




With the birth of her son Steele, Courtney Miller, daughter of CVR member Debbie Kordiac recently became a mom.  But this isn't the first time that Courtney has given the gift of life. The first time was in 2012 when Courtney donated bone marrow to an 11 year old boy from England who she'd never met.

Earlier that year, Courtney had learned about two people within her personal circle of family and friends who were receiving bone marrow from family members.  When she came across the Be the Match web site for bone marrow transplants, she was moved to sign up and potentially offer another chance to someone battling cancer. 

A short while later Courtney was found to be a match for the 11 year old boy suffering from severe aplastic anemia.  When Courtney learned about the little boy's illness, she readily agreed to donate, and In November she donated her bone marrow during a one hour procedure at the Ohio State Medical Center in Columbus. Courtney's bone marrow was then transplanted by way an IV which dripped the “good” marrow to the little boy over the course of a few hours. 
 
During the interview for this article, Courtney explained that this can be a painful process for the recipient as the patient’s body accepts foreign marrow. Afterward the patient is hospitalized for nearly two months and then monitored closely for a year or longer.  A week before the procedure, the young boy was given chemotherapy and radiation to wipe out his immune system, so that the donated bone marrow could then replace the old diseased marrow and begin repairing his body.  During this process there is a chance the marrow will not take or there will be a complications, which could result in death.  The chemo and radiation make the patient extremely susceptible to bacterial and viral infections, and he/she cannot have contact with the outside community in any way; as even a simple cold could be fatal.
 
For the donor there are the normal surgical risks relating to anesthesia. Though no medical procedure is without risk, there are rarely any long-term side effects donating either PBSC or bone marrow. The donor's cells replenish themselves in 4 to 6 weeks.
 
The marrow donation is done under general or regional anesthesia, so the donor experiences no pain during the collection procedure. Discomfort and side effects vary from person to person. Most marrow donors experience some side effects.

Common side effects of marrow donation include:
Back or hip pain
Fatigue
Muscle pain
Headache
Bruising at the incision site

In Courtney's case she was extremely tired for a few days, and her lower back was very sore in the short term.  The full healing process was about 30-45 days until she felt 100%.  The pain was not severe, but for about a month she felt like she had been standing for too long and had a stiff back.
 
Since making the donation, Courtney has received three cards from the parents and the recipient and has heard from the Be the Match Foundation that he is doing well to date.
 
When asked whether she had any concerns about becoming a donor, Courtney commented that she did initially have concerns about being able to have children at a later point, the long term effects on the sites where the bone marrow was taken from and the healing process.  She went on to say "When I received the call and found out that the recipient was an eleven year old child who would have to undergo chemotherapy I felt that any discomfort I would experience could not compare.  I thought about the family of the boy and how scared they must all be…it was a fairly easy decision when weighing the risk/benefits to me and the patient."   

Folks who knows Courtney's mom Debbie aren't surprised by Courtney's sense of compassion. 

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
 
Anyone interested in becoming a bone marrow donor should go to the Be the Match web site at
https://bethematch.org/  They will send you swabs in the mail which you can use to swipe the inside of your mouth and send them back to the organization.
 
After joining 
Be The Match Registry®, you will be contacted if you are identified as a possible bone marrow match for a patient. When you’re contacted as a possible match, you have been identified as having similar HLA typing to a patient with leukemia, lymphoma or one of more than 80 life-threatening diseases. Courtney would like CVR members to know that the National Bone Marrow Registry was wonderful to work with and the process is quick and seamless once you are identified as a match.  She would be happy to talk to anyone if they are identified as a match and highly encourages anyone ages 18-44 to register and possibly save someone’s life.