Yesterday was our son, Benji's, thirty third birthday. Tomorrow he and his wife will fly to Washington, DC for Ben to be a blood marrow donor to an unknown recipient.
Ben is the younger of our two sons. Much like his father, Benji "married up" when he got hitched to a wonderful Christian girl nearly thirteen years ago. Leigh Anne is a dedicated believer in Jesus Christ, and is a woman of faith and grace. We love her like a daughter. She and Ben have also given us two of our four precious grandsons.
I am proud that Ben is actively involved at Rose Hill Baptist Church. Proud that he and Leigh Anne are teaching their children about the love of Jesus, and bringing them up in a Christian home and teaching them the importance of prayer, giving, and belonging to the local church.
Benji did four years in the United States Marine Corps, and graduated from Morehead State University. He is a teacher and coach, and has been a good son for 33 years. I am especially proud of what he will be doing later this week at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, when he will donate bone marrow to a cancer patient he has never met.
Several weeks ago, Ben received a phone call, asking him to come in for some blood work to see if he might be a match for a patient who needed a bone marrow transplant. He has been a blood donor in the past, but had never had a call like this. When he asked why they were calling him. he was told that in April 1999 he had signed a form volunteering to be a bone marrow donor. He didn't particularly remember signing anything like that, but figured it must have been among the many documents he signed in the USMC, when he was deployed to Kosovo in April of that year.
At any rate, the blood work showed that Benji appeared to be a perfect match for the "66 year old international patient" at Georgetown. He was then flown to Washington for a complete physical the week before Easter. After one final medical test back here, he was told that he was a perfect match and that the patient was now beginning his chemotherapy and radiation in preparation for the procedure.
As I understand the procedure, they won't actually be "digging out" any of his bone marrow, but will actually be harvesting stem cells from his blood that will be used by the oncologist to implant in the cancer patient. Ben will receive some type of injection for two days and then the actual procedure will take place for the next four days. His blood supply will be circulated through some type of machine (much like a dialysis procedure) over a period of four or five hours each day as the stem cells are harvested.
The doctors tell Ben that while the procedure is not "dangerous", it will be exhausting and somewhat painful for several days while the procedure is in process. I understand that he will also need about a week to fully recuperate. The officials at Georgetown are flying Benji and Leigh Anne to Washington and putting them up at a guest house on campus and will provide meals for them while there. Linda and I and Lance and Linda Clanton will share the duties of taking care of Will and Asher while their parents are out of town.
Ben, like everyone else, has issues he is dealing with in life. No one is perfect and we are all needy creatures. Human flaws are part of all of us, but I am proud of both of our sons and daughters in law, and proud that Benji is willing to give of himself to help try to save the life of someone he has never met.
I am proud of you son, and praying for God's touch and His blessing in every aspect of your life.