A Life-Saving Act of Kindness

We’re in awe of the team at Avantgarde. Every day our employees go out and create memorable live communication campaigns and still find the time to change the world in their spare time. In our latest edition of ‘Avantgarde Inspirationals’, we encounter what might classify as a real hero…

Sometimes, our colleagues make us really proud. Take Dominik Steininger for example. To most of us, he is part of our tireless IT team in Munich (you know, the guys you regularly call when you can’t access your emails). But I bet you didn’t know he went out of his way to save a life? Well, this is how he did it:

Dominik about to inject himself with the growing factor.
Dominik about to inject himself with the growing factor.

It all started when his cousin asked him to take part in a bone marrow screening for a young mother at a local school who was suffering from leukemia. While he wasn’t a match in this particular case, his profile went into the bone marrow donor data base of the AKB, the Bavarian bone marrow donation foundation. Fast forward a year later to last week, when he suddenly receives a phone call from the AKB.

“They told me I was a match, and that my bone marrow was in dire need.” Depending on the patient in need the actual chances of finding a match can be very slim – but it is literally a matter of life and death. Dominik made an appointment with the AKB in Gauting (an hour southwest of Munich) and had his blood, phyiscal constitution and pretty much everything else checked. Then came an educational talk about the procedure and risks involved in donating peripheral blood stem cells.

You can change your mind and  pull out of the procedure anytime, but… this pretty much means the patient would die.

Dominik agreed to become a donor. “For four days I had to inject myself a stimulating factor that triggered the growth of stem cells.” He describes the side effects as body aches similar to a mild flu minus the fever. “When you agree to become a donor, the recipient starts taking medication to effectively kill his own stem cells. You can change your mind and  pull out of the procedure anytime,” Dominik continues, “but… this pretty much means the patient would die.”

Dominik having his blood filtered.
Dominik having his blood filtered.

Needless to say, Dominik battled through the days of fatigue and muscle pain until a blood cell separator machine (much like a kidney dialysis) washed the stem cells out of his blood. This procedure took only a few hours, and didn’t even require him staying at the hospital over night. The stem cells were then rushed to the recipient, who received the life-saving transfusion, effectively building new bone marrow and curing his blood.

Though donors can request the identity of the recipient, Dominik is not sure he wants to know: “I don’t know… I don’t want some stranger think he owes me something. I didn’t do it to have someone feel dependent on me.” We told you: Dominik, a real hero.

Avantgarde felt privileged to help Dominik during this process, and made sure to give him as much time as he needed to perform his act of kindness. Over the course of his treatment and the donation process, many people inquired how they could become a donor, too. It is very simple: Just do a quick Google search for “bone marrow donation” and get registered with a big donor database in your country, for example:

www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/bonemarrow (UK)

www.dkms.de (Germany)

www.france-adot.org/le-don-de-moelle-osseuse.html (France)

www.cmdp.com.cn (China)

With a patient receiving the diagnosis of leukemia every 16 minutes in Germany alone, chances are you will become a hero just like Dominik!