48th MDG Airman gives the ultimate gift

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- What would you do to help a stranger? Give canned goods and warm clothes during the holidays; donate money to various charities? 

One Airman from RAF Lakenheath felt he could give more. Senior Airman Daniel Mangan, 48th Medical Services Squadron volunteered his time and his own blood to give to Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation. 

"I signed up to be a donor at a Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, during a donation drive," Airman Mangan said. "Three years later, I got a call here saying I was a match." 

He said he was nervous before the procedure, but it was worth it when all was said and done. His blood stem cell donation helped a young man with leukemia. 

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, donors receive injections of a drug which produces blood stem cells, twice a day, for five days. On the fifth day, they undergo a procedure called apheresis to collect the marrow cells. 

During apheresis, a needle will be placed into each of the patient's arms. Blood will be removed from a vein in one arm and passed through tubing into a blood cell separator machine. The blood is spun at high speed and the cells separate into layers. 

The machine collects blood-forming cells, platelets, and some white blood cells. Plasma and red blood cells are returned to your body through the other arm while the blood-forming cells are put into a collection bag. All the tubing used in the machine is sterile and used only once for each donation. 

If only one apheresis donation is done, it may take up to eight hours. If the donation is spread out between two donations on separate days, each collection will take four to six hours. 

"It was painful," Airman Mangan said. "It kind of felt like I had really bad arthritis. I had achy joints and bone pain." 

Despite the pain, Airman Mangan said he'd do it again. He was able to travel to the Washington D.C. area with his family for the five-day procedure. 

"I have children, and I'd want someone to do this for my family," Airman Mangan said. 

"It was rewarding," Airman Mangan said. "I don't know that it will save his life, but to give someone better quality of life is worth it." 

For more information on marrow donation and an upcoming bone marrow drive, please contact the 48th Medical Group lab at 226-8439.