LN – The best holiday gift: his sister saved his life


Andrea González (46) with her sister and bone donor, Alejandra. Credit: Courtesy

A day like today but eight years ago, Andrea González (46) celebrated Christmas Eve in a way she had never imagined: admitted to the Austral Hospital, hoping that her sister would save her life. “At 38 I had everything armed: a family with two small children and a work project,” reveals this teacher of Letters of Bahía Blanca. Until, in May 2011, he went to look for the results of a medical analysis imagining that the fatigue he felt was the result of anemia. The diagnosis left her perplexed: acute lymphoblastic leukemia. .

Soon after diagnosis, he began with chemotherapy. The doctors told him that, because of his age and the characteristics of the type of cancer, he would need a transplant to “reset his bone marrow.” The chances were low.
According to him
, three out of four patients do not have a compatible bone donor in their family. Therefore, they must find an unrelated one through the voluntary donor registries – among them the Argentine one -, which make up the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), with more than 36,000,000 people from 63 countries. The donation is specified only when the genetic code of the patient and the donor are close to 100% compatibility, something difficult, since people have important genetic variations.

Andrea has only one sister who is two years older, Alejandra. The opportunity to achieve what he most wanted in the world was lodged in it: to see his children grow up. Alejandra did not doubt it for a second, then the blood test was done to see if they were compatible. “When we learned that the result was positive, the first to celebrate was her,” recalls excited Andrea, whose unconditional support was always her family, from her parents who spent whole nights awake trying to get blood donors, to her husband, sister and in-laws who took turns caring for their children or taking them from Bahía Blanca to Buenos Aires to meet their mother again and that the distance hurt less.

All of them also said present at those parties that took place between nurses, doctors and the hope that the new year would bring a speedy recovery for Andrea. “It is hard to spend these internship dates because you think you are ruining the celebration to others. But, at the same time, everything takes on a deeper and more intimate sense. Because I put the body, but the soul put it all. We fought it team, “confesses this woman and fondly remembers a nurse who approached her room with a bottle to toast when they were 12.

“It was very mobilizing to feel that through me, Andrea had another possibility,” says Alejandra.

From that moment, Andrea celebrates her two birthdays: the day she arrived in the world, which is on December 21 and the 27 of that same month when she was transplanted from the bone marrow and began her “second life”. “The disease shakes you, but it also gives you the opportunity to stand differently in front of life. You learn to enjoy more, to celebrate every moment you have, whatever happens,” confesses this woman who loves to work as a teacher in a school Public of your city.

That December 2011 was intense and the year closed in the same way, celebrating hospitalization and recovering from the transplant, surrounded by all your loved ones. Among them was Alejandra.
“It was very mobilizing to feel that through me Andrea had another possibility. I adore her, besides my sister is my friend, I can't imagine life without her. What I admire most is her strength, even in the hardest moments she always maintained the smile, he struggled to be well so we wouldn't suffer for her “, Alejandra proudly says.

And he adds in order to raise awareness: “There are many people who think that donating bone marrow is painful or risky. None of that is true. It is something totally compatible with family and work life. On the same day I went back home , once I finished, I went walking. You have to cheer up, it's worth it because you can save someone else's life. “

Andrea González closed the year surrounded by all her loved ones.
Andrea González closed the year surrounded by all her loved ones. Credit: Courtesy

Heal pains

Every year hundreds of people like Andrea are diagnosed with a hematological disease, such as leukemia, aplastic anemia, lymphoma, myeloma, metabolic errors or immune deficits. All these pathologies can be treated with a bone marrow transplant. However, not everyone has the same fate as this teacher of letters. Only between 25% or 30% find a compatible donor in their family. Therefore, the more registered donors there are, the greater the chances of compatibility.

In our country there are 284,487 people registered as bone marrow donors. In order for more and more people to be registered, this year the Incucai organized, together with Proyecto Dar Vida, a story contest to raise awareness in schools. The jury chose two winners out of 72 stories, including Andrea's.

In anonymity and under the pseudonym “Roadrunner”, he presented his story “Question of sponsors” that tells the story of a young marathoner with leukemia who has to run a race against the clock: find a compatible donor outside his family. This is a fictional character who travels uncertainty and urgency, based on a real boy, of flesh and blood that Andrea met in the hospital corridors and who, in addition to the disease had two things: a lot of anger and desire to live.

Those same desires were those that pushed Andrea to win the fight against cancer and that led her to become the
winner of this contest, within the youth category, along with Matías Nicolás Pi who triumphed in the children's category with his story ”
Difficult figurine. “When from the Incucai they called her a few weeks ago to know who” Roadrunner “was and give her the good news, they were surprised with Andrea's response:” I was also marrow transplanted as the protagonist of the story. “

Beyond helping others become aware, the contest allowed him to “heal the pains of the disease.” For her, literature has “a provocative and healing effect.”

“Writing this story, meant, somehow, retracing personal paths as a kind of revenge, especially because I had the blessing of having a sister who gave me this second life. From my illness, many friends and family They wrote down as donors, hopefully the story will be useful for more people to join, “dreams Andrea.

Looking back, he reflects: “I don't conceive of life without resilience. There are things that depend on one and others that don't. In those that depend on one, you always have to row, whatever happens.”

What you need to know before donating

  • Bone marrow donation consists of two instances: enrollment and donation. In the first instance you donate blood and sign up. In the second, they summon you to donate cells.
  • Once enrolled, the donor is only contacted again if it is compatible with any patient who requires a Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell (CPH) transplant. Donor and recipient must be 100% compatible.
  • When the genetic code of a donor enrolled in the Registry coincides with that of a patient who needs a CPH transplant anywhere in the world, the Registry contacts the donor to confirm their decision and manage the donation.

Step by step

1. Attend one of the 160 Donor Centers across the country. SEE

2. Sign the consent and donate a unit of blood (you do not need to be fasting). From that blood a small sample is extracted that is genetically analyzed. The rest is used in patients who need it for treatments and surgeries.

3. Genetic data enter the database and are available to be compared with those of patients who need a transplant. If a patient is compatible they call you to ratify the decision.

4. Doctors study the donor's health status.

5. Cell extraction is performed using the technique chosen by the donor.

6. The transplant is performed and, thanks to this solidarity gesture, the patient recovers his health.


  • Be between 18 to 55 years old.
  • Weigh more than 50 kilos
  • Not having a history of heart, liver or infectious diseases

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Publicado en el diario La Nación