Bone Marrow Bank in Tsukuba
At the Tsukuba International Exchange Fair last weekend, there were some people handing out flyers about registering your bone marrow (骨髄, こつずい). When I was handed a flyer, I remembered reading about a fellow foreign resident of Japan who needed to find a bone marrow donor, so I decided to go and get my bone marrow tested and registered while I was at the festival.
The whole procedure didn’t last very long. First, I had to fill out a form with my name and contact information and sign something to say that I did not have any of the listed afflictions. After that, I was given an explanation of what would happen if someone happened to need my bone marrow. The man explained that I would be given plenty of opportunities to say “no” for whatever reason — because I was sick, or tired, or even too busy — after a match is found. If I did eventually decide to donate my bone marrow, I would be in the hospital for about two or three days and all of my hospital expenses would be covered by the Japan Marrow Donor Program.
After the explanation was finished, I went and sat in a room to wait for a few minutes. There were lots of people in the room who had donated blood, and I would have been happy to donate some of my own while I was there, but since I lived in England for a year in the early 1990s, my blood cannot be accepted (because of the mad cow disease scare that happened around that time in England). I was eventually taken to a room where a doctor took my blood pressure and asked me a few questions. Once I passed the blood pressure test, a nurse took a very small amount of blood from my arm and sent me back to the reception area. At the reception area, I picked up my donor card and a present (two tea towels) and went back to the festival. The whole thing probably took about 30 to 40 minutes — but if the festival wasn’t happening at the time, I’m sure it would have been over even more quickly.
Since bone marrow matches are most likely to be found in people of similar racial background, it is important for foreign people who live in Japan to register themselves. Those of us who are not of Japanese descent have a very limited pool of bone marrow donors to choose from, should we fall ill. Since registration only takes a few minutes, doesn’t hurt (except for the prick of the needle), and can be done right in Tsukuba Center, I would like to encourage you to consider doing it. You can have your bone marrow tested and registered in Tsukuba at the Red Cross Blood Donation Center which is located on the second floor (the same level as the pedestrian deck) of AiAi Mall, in between Joyo Bank and Tsukuba Information Center. The Donation Center is open every day, including weekends, from 10am to 12 noon and from 2pm to 5pm. Address: Azuma 1-1364-1-4, Tel: 029-852-7888.