By Kim Jansen
News Report Staff
Teutopolis High School teacher and coach, Troy Bierman, had never really thought much about the bone marrow donor registry.
Although he is an organ donor, he admits that when it comes to things like donating blood, he is a little squeamish because he doesn’t like needles.
But in the spring of 2015, Bierman learned his friend’s father was in need of a bone marrow donor, so he went to a Be The Match drive, hosted by the family, to see if he would be a match for his friend’s father.
He was not a match — and that was that!
Well, until he received a call in July.
Although Bierman had agreed to have his information added to the registry in 2015, he didn’t think much about it because he felt like the odds that he could be a match for a patient would be slim to none.
But that all changed in July when Bierman was contacted by Be The Match Registry, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, and was informed that he was a match for a 73-year-old male who was in need of marrow.
“I was a little surprised that I got called,” said Bierman. “It is slim that someone is actually a match. People wait a long time for a match, and some people never get a match.”
After Bierman agreed to move forward with the donation, he was required to complete further testing to determine if he was a viable donor and was paired with a representative of the donor program to help him through the process.
“It was something that was brand new to me, and I didn’t really know much about the process,” said Bierman, who added he started to research the process online after receiving the call.
After testing was completed, it was determined that Bierman was a perfect match, meaning all 8 markers the doctors consider were a match with the patient.
“It was a 100 percent match,” said Bierman, who said donors need to match at least 6 of the 8 markers. “Because I was a perfect match, if it didn’t work, then it wasn’t going to work for him.”
Bierman’s surgery was first scheduled for October, but due to the patient’s condition, the donation date was pushed back.
After a few re-schedulings, Bierman made the donation on January 4 at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.
“It got pushed back quite a few times, so it was a nervous ordeal because it was never really set in stone,” said Bierman.
Once Bierman arrived at the hospital, he was checked in similar to any other outpatient surgery, and his wife, Heather, kept track of his progress during the surgery from the waiting room.
According to Heather, the surgery took about an hour and a half, and during that time, the hospital staff was excellent at keeping her informed of his progress.
For Bierman to donate, they made five small incisions on his back to collect the marrow from his pelvic bone. The amount of marrow collected is a small fraction of the body’s total marrow, and the marrow naturally replaces itself in the donor’s body in just a few weeks.
Following the marrow donation, Bierman was kept at the hospital to receive fluids and blood, which he had donated at an earlier time.
“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I would do it again,” said Bierman, who added he was sore the first few days, but was able to return work the Monday following the Thursday procedure. “I was sore at the five drilling spots where they went into my pelvic bone. I am sure everybody is different, but the only thing I had was I was sore in my lower back.”
The soreness is expected to be gone in the next few weeks.
“It is a very simple procedure for the magnitude that it is going to do,” said Bierman.
During his time in the hospital, Bierman posted a photo to his Twitter account and on his Facebook page, in hopes of spreading awareness about the donor registry.
Bierman said while completing the pre-tests the months leading up to the surgery, he had tests ran at a cancer center where he was around those battling cancer.
“It puts into perspective how lucky I am to have by health,” said Bierman, adding they called him a hero. “I am not a hero, but I am glad that I did it. I want people to know how to get on this registry to donate. That is what it is all about.”
Bierman hopes to host an event in Teutopolis where people can come in and sign up to be on the registry.
According to Bierman, it is simple to sign up, which includes paperwork and a sample swab.
“It is very simple, and you can give someone else a chance to live,” said Bierman.
Both Troy and Heather Bierman agree that it is important to donate because one day it could be you or one of your family members who are in need.
“I think it is great,” said Heather of her husband’s donation. “It could be us one day.”
Troy Bierman added that cancer touches everyone in some way and this is a chance to help.
“I had a chance to help somebody,” said Bierman. “One day it could be me that needs the help.”
To learn more about becoming a donor, visit www.bethematch.org.