Sorry, I’m too old to save your life

As you get older, you start to get a little used to the small indignities that remind you that you’re too old to be of much use.

Still, I was a little stunned this morning when Be the Match told me — in a nice way, I guess — that I am no longer in the running to save someone’s life, at least by staying alive while I do it, which is currently my preferred method, thank you very much.


I was approached for the registry in 2002 at a blood drive on St. Paul’s West Side in the days after Sen. Paul Wellstone’s plane crash near the Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport in northern Minnesota.

I had big dreams of being a hero.

But I never heard word. Someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every four minutes. Someone dies from it every six minutes. But none of them, apparently, needed me.

And now my marrow is too old, although Be the Match says I can still donate something else: money.

In truth, I was probably too old when I signed up at age 47 (yep, it seemed like only yesterday). Ninety percent of the bone marrow that’s extracted from donors is from people under 45.

Youth is wasted on the young. Fortunately, bone marrow isn’t.

As I wrote on this site two years ago:

But the indignities of getting older are nothing compared to being denied the opportunity to get older at all. And there are still two two-year-olds, a 10-year old, and a 20-month-old kid out there among the people waiting for a younger person to step forward.

Related: Marrow donor/recipient bond propels cross-country ride (MPR News).