Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to Donate Bone Marrow

bone marrow donation
Sign up to be a donor today!
When family and friends hear the news that a loved one needs a bone marrow transplant and are in need of a donor, many want to know how they can help. If you live in the U.S., one of the best and simplest ways to help is to sign up for the national bone marrow registry through

Why People Need a Bone Marrow Donation

A patient needs a bone marrow transplant when a disease negatively affects how her own bone marrow produces blood-forming cells. Many times this source of healthy cells comes from an allogenic transplant, or related donor transplant, which is when a family member or unrelated person donates their cells.

If a patient has a sibling, there is a 30 percent chance that this individual is a match. If a sibling isn’t a match, the doctor turns to Be the Match to find a donor. This is the reason why it’s so important for all those who are eligible to join the registry. 

There are three sources that a patient can use to replace her diseased cells with healthy ones:

  • Bone marrow: The cells inside your bones
  • Peripheral blood: Circulating blood from which doctors collect stem cells.
  • Umbilical cords: The doctors collect blood from umbilical cords after the birth of a baby.

The best source of healthy cells depends on the patient and her doctor’s recommendations.  

How to Donate Your Bone Marrow

Signing up to donate your bone marrow is simple. You simply join the bone marrow registry online or at a Be the Match donor registry drive. 

I signed up online. When I did this, I reviewed the criteria to make sure that I qualified to be a donor and provided my name, address and other contact information. While I was asked to make a $100 donation, it was not necessary to join the registry. You can join for free if you are on a tight budget.

After signing up, I received a registration kit in the mail. The kit has a big cotton swab that you rub against the inside of your check to collect cells. After swabbing your cheek, per the instructions that come in the kit, you send the sample back to Be the Match. The agency will analyze your sample and keep your information on file. 

If a patient in need has at least six of the eight same human leukocyte antigens (HLA) as you, someone will contact you. 

Once you are in the registry, you can call Be the Match to request a copy of your HLA report. I just made this request, and they are mailing and emailing it to me today. 

Getting Tested and Donating for a Specific Person

When you sign up for the Be the Match Registry, you commit to donating to any patient in need. Its registry does not provide private testing or testing for a specific patient.  

For private testing services, contact Kashi Laboratories at or 1-877-565-3287. At the time of publication, the testing kit is about $200. After you submit the kit and receive the results, you can forward it to a patient’s doctor to see if you are a potential match. 

Like blood, the body replenishes its supply of bone marrow after a donation. It doesn’t take many healthy cells to save a life. Learn more about bone marrow donations and transplants.

Friday, April 11, 2014

How to Care for Succulent Cuttings

About a month ago, I ordered 15 succulent cuttings online to increase my plant collection without spending a lot of money. When you receive succulent cuttings, you generally get baby plants without roots that the seller removed from a mother plant.

I didn't know what I was going to receive in the mail, nor did the plants come labeled. (Figuring out the names was part of the fun for me.) I am happy with the assortment that arrived carefully wrapped in newsprint.

succulent cuttings
So many succulents!

I punched some holes in the bottom of some salad trays from the grocery store using an awl, filled the trays with cactus soil, got the soil slightly damp with a spray bottle filled with water and inserted the plants. 

crassulas, sedum and echeveria
A nice assortment of crassulas, sedum and echeveria.
In the picture above, I removed the flower spike from the plant on the bottom left corner so more of the plant's energy went toward producing the roots than keeping the flower alive.

Kalanchoes and sedum.

Mist the cuttings with water and place them on a window sill. I mist my cuttings with water about every other day, when the soil was dry. 

Some of the little leaves that you see in the trays fell of the plants, but most are ones that I removed from the bottom of the stems so I could bury them in the dirt. The cool thing about the succulent leaves is that many grow baby plants with time, so don't throw them away. Instead, set them aside for a few days so the ends form a callous and then place the leaves on top of the dirt. In my USDA zone, 8A, it took about one month for the leaves to grow roots in late winter/early spring.

It will take at least two weeks for small roots to start forming. However, it takes some plants longer than other to root.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dinosaur Planter

My birthday was a couple weeks ago. As a gift, my husband made me a dinosaur planter.

He removed the top spikes and inserted three small planters. I filled the planters with dirt, hens-n-chicks and a succulent ground cover. This summer, the succulents will multiply and fill the planters.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

String of Pearls, Aloe and Jade Plants

I have a handful of baby succulents thanks to my aunt and a lady at a garden store who didn't know what she was doing.

My aunt has some jade plants that turned into small trees. These little plants are from her.
Tiny jade in a tiny tea cup
Baby jade with a curly stem

My aunt also gave me this little aloe plant. She says that it will say small for a long time. So far, it has.
An aloe plant that stays small

My husband bought me a string of pearls plant (Senecio rowleyanus) at a garden store near our home. He says that the shop owner had the plant in the back. She told him that she hated it because she couldn't keep the others ones alive. She was watering them too much.

The plant started out as a single vine of round leaves, or pearls. The vine had some offshoots that I removed and replanted in the dirt of this hanging planter that I bought for $4.99 at Goodwill. I can't wait until the vines fill up the planter.

The plant is simple to propagate and I put some of the smaller vines that I removed from this plant in a "greenhouse" made of a clear plastic container with a lid. They're doing well so far.

String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
What are you growing?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Growing Succulents

Succulents and sedum are some of my favorite types of plants to grow because they're among the only types of plants that I can grow. (I'm giving orchids a shot, but things look kind of iffy.)

The following are a few of the plants that I have in my collection.

Unknown aloe variety
Unknown haworthia or aloe variety
Echeveria domingo

Delosperma lehmannii

Crassula "Tom Thumb"
The aloe, haworthia and crassula send out offsets on their own, so they're super easy to propagate. I'm currently trying to propagate the echeveria and Delosperma lehmannii with cuttings now that the weather is warmer.   

The white powder on the plants is diatomaceous earth that I use for pest prevention. 

If you know what the aloe echeveria-like varieties are, please let me know in the comments.