Actor Donal Logue: Becoming A Match
Posted on April 8, 2011, 12:17 PM
This past weekend, SU2C caught up with actor Donal Logue at City of Hope where he was making a desperately needed stem cell donation to a cancer patient… he had never even met.
SU2C: Where are you right now and what are you doing?
Donal: I’m at the City of Hope donor center. They have me in this IV setup, where my blood is going through tubes and into a centrifuge to spin it and extract white blood cell/stem cells, and then the blood is put back into my body.
SU2C: How did you end up here?
Donal: I play for Hollywood United Football Club. My teammates, Brian Dunseth and Gilles Marini, played in Mia Hamm’s Celebrity Soccer Challenge to promote awareness for bone marrow donation through Be The Match, a foundation that matches donors with patients for lifesaving transplants. Mia asked the team to volunteer to swab their cheeks and join the donor database. I wasn’t even at the game that day, but after talking to Brian I wanted to get involved. In addition to Mia’s brother who lost his life to Leukemia, Brian’s friend Andy William’s wife Marcia had Leukemia. I wanted to participate, so I went to bethematch.org and had them mail a collection kit to my house.
About eight months later I got the call: I was a 10 out of 10 match for a patient who needed a bone marrow transplant. I remember I was shooting on the set of House when I got the call that I really, really matched a patient in need.
They told me that I had to have a physical immediately. Since the receiver was terminal, they would have to undergo a final round of chemo that destroys all of their own cells first. After that, if they don’t get infused with the new blood, they will definitely die. Wherever this guy is, he is in his last stage of chemo waiting for my blood to arrive.
SU2C: Did you think when you swabbed your cheek that you’d ever really be doing this?
Donal: My feeling is, when you swab your cheek, you do it with the hope that someday you could be the one to save a life. I’d be disappointed to be in the databank and not get called.
SU2C: How does the process actually work, once you are identified as a match?
Donal: What I’m giving is called a PBSC (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell) donation. As technology advances, you rarely have to give bone marrow anymore. They are able to develop what they need from these blood forming cells. The patient uses the donor cells to essentially build a new immune system.
Before the procedure, I had to take injections for five days to increase the blood stem cells. My count was 5,000, and today its up to 40,000. Now I’m hooked up to a machine that removes blood from one arm, collects the blood forming cells, and returns the rest of the blood to my body through the other arm.
SU2C: Does it hurt?
Donal: Not at all.
SU2C: What do you know about the patient whose life you are saving?
Donal: I know he is a man, but otherwise they keep it anonymous. I do know that he is not in the United States, and I know that he is not in Ireland. My parents and grandparents are all from Ireland, so I figured that’s where my perfect match would be. Now I just imagine that he’s somewhere in Europe, but I don’t really know.
SU2C: Are you curious to meet him?
Donal: Phenomenally curious. I want to sit down and have a cup of tea with him and have him tell me how awesome his life is again. I would love that. But the most important thing, whatever happens, is that hopefully this saves him. I’m so happy for his family, his grandma, his mom and his siblings, that they found a match to save his life. I’m so happy to be the one to help.
SU2C: What would you say to someone out there who is hesitant about moving forward with something like Be The Match?
Donal: There is nothing to fear; it is completely safe, and very little to no discomfort. Can you imagine if you had cancer or if your loved one was going through this? And all it took to save your life was for a stranger to go through four days of mild discomfort. The more people do it, the more chances there are to find matches to save lives. There is only a 25% chance the match will come from someone within your family. If you’ve ever known someone who has suffered or died from cancer, you can imagine how this simple procedure can alleviate that suffering from another family out there. If you’re healthy and between the ages of 18 and 60, check it out. It’s an amazing feeling to save a life.
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