Become a bone-marrow donor—I mean you, and right now

Robbie Greenberger died on August 14, 2008.  He will be sorely missed.

Please keep Bob, Debbie, and Kate Greenberger in your thoughts. 

My thanks to everyone who read this thread, passed on the links, or contributed to the conversation. 


Yeah, it’s creepy and weird to volunteer for a procedure where big needles are stuck into your pelvic bones and 5% (or less) of your bone marrow is sucked out.

But bone marrow is one of the relatively few things people can donate while they are still alive. Why wait until you’re dead to save a life? 

You’re probably wondering why this is on  Other than it being a worthy cause, of course.  Okay, this is why, and it’s nakedly personal (no, it’s not me). 

I don’t even remember when I met Bob Greenberger for the first time.  But I can tell you that in the more than twenty years that I have known him, Bob has never been anything less than a gentleman—a mensch.  He’s done a powerful amount of work in our field, as an editor and writer (at DC Comics, at the late, lamented Weekly World News, now at Famous Monsters of Filmland, as the author of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, The Essential Batman Encyclopedia [boy do I want that!], and many other books).  He’s devoted to his community—this community—and to the town he lives in (he’s involved in local politics—a man who likes to live dangerously!).  He’s a good friend and he’s always there when people need him (when I feared for a while that my comics collection was going to be homeless, Bob, hearing about this through another friend, called me out of the blue and offered to store it in his garage.  Considering that I own something on the order of 40,000 comics, that was a very generous offer.  Totally unexpected and totally Bob). 

But most of all, Bob Greenberger is a loving and devoted husband and father. 

And now, one of his children is in trouble.

Many people have been following Robbie Greenberger’s struggle with leukemia on his father’s blog, Notes from a Final Frontiersman.  But for those who are first learning of this, it’s been quite a fight.  Robbie’s had chemo, with all the attendant ups and downs and various side effects.  For a while, it looked like the cancer had been knocked out, but recently the disease returned, accompanied by a nasty fungal infection.  In mid-July, Robbie had parts of both lungs removed.  There will be more chemo to come, but the long and the short of it is that Robbie needs new bone marrow. 

People die every day because they can’t find a match.

This is where we all come in.

Thanks to AndyHat, who found The Caitlin Raymond International Registry, which also accepts online registration and has a more sensible attitude toward allowing donations from gay men.

The National Marrow Donor Program should be your first stop.  You can join online and the registry will mail you a cheek-swab kit so you can be tissue-typed.  The catch is that if you do it this way, you have to pick up the tab for processing the swab ($52—tax deductible). 

Or you can look for a bone marrow drive near you, in which case you probably won’t have to pay the $52. 

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60 and meet the health guidelines you can sign up.  See FAQ and myths for more useful and enlightening information (no, they don’t have to punch a bunch of holes in your bones anymore).

Personally, I’m totally chickenshit terrified, but I’m sending for a kit the next time I get paid.  There are thousands of people out there looking for donors.  I’m sure they’re all as loved as Robbie.  Let’s help, if we can.

[Photo by Flickr user andydr; licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution Generic.]


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