Let us take a step back to 2019 when I first arrived at Villanova University. I remember the football team hosting a Be the Match bone marrow drive. If I am being honest, I was unsure what I was signing myself up for others than the fact that my swab would be entered into a database of bone marrow volunteers who have signed up to donate if a match were made.
Fast forward to November of 2021 I received a call from a random number. If you know me my phone is on “do not disturb” 24/7. I quickly listen to the voice message stating that I was a potential candidate match. Returning the call, I go over the basic information of the Be the Match foundation and give my consent that if I were to be a match, I would feel comfortable going through with the procedure. There was no further communication until early March when the foundation let me know that I would need to provide further testing to see if I was a legit match. Things become more real as I was narrowed down to a top three donor list for a needing candidate. The waiting game continues as the doctors make their final decision on who is the best match for the candidate.
After a few tests and months of waiting I received an encouraging call that I was actually an exact match for someone needing bone marrow. Never in my life did I think that signing up back in 2019 that I would be selected for this opportunity. I was excited because I have always prided myself on helping others and there is no better way that filling the need of someone who is sick.
I was now set up with a donation manager that would orchestrate my donation experience. With a manager on the case, I was given an itinerary of what was to be completed prior to my donation and my donation site (Seattle, Washington).
June 25th: Filgrastim shots (urgent care)
June 26th: Filgrastim shots (home care nurse)
June 27th: Filgrastim shots (home care nurse)
June 28th: Filgrastim shots (at donation site: Seattle, Washington)
June 29th: Filgrastim shots/Bone Marrow extraction (at donation site: Seattle, Washington)
The day I arrived I Seattle I report to my hotel to find myself a care package. In the package I received a letter…
Colin, Welcome to Seattle! Inside are some local treats along with extra water to help hydrate. Please remember to wear lose, comfortable clothes on your donation day and thanks for being a hero!
Emily & Jeremey
Reading over the last line I was baffled. A hero? I appreciated the words and I understand the procedure is giving someone another chance to survive, but I am not a hero. I am doing what I would hope everyone would consider doing. Everybody deserves a second chance and if you are healthy and able, we should all be willing to help one another out. Could you imagine how much better the world would be if we all were just willing to help each other out? This whole journey aligns with my core values; People Helping People – “we are what we give”
On June 29th, donation day, I received my last set of shots about 30 minutes before my donation process started. At the host site I was set up with breakfast and a personal room with entertainment for my experience. As I consume breakfast I try and make light of the situation, thinking how cool of an opportunity this is. Not before long I was taken back to my personal room to begin my procedure (dual IVs with a plasma extraction) which lasted close to 5 hours. As the procedure is taking place, I was thinking to myself how incredible our health & research programs in America are…… that with a simple 5-hour procedure we may have been able to save a life. Post extraction my bone marrow was frozen and shipped overnight to the recipient’s site. I was given a briefing to relax for 24-48 hours post procedure, but I had not lasting side effects. The normal procedure can last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours but can provide years of life to the recipient. Simply incredible!!
Be the Match is an incredible foundation. Their communication and planning are top tier. I had an unbelievable experience with my case manager, BTM employees and all the nurses involved with my case. Be the Match had each appointment pre-set, they covered flights, hotel, and food accommodations for the entire donation trip. The foundation had me out in Seattle for 4 days and 3 nights with a handful of days post procedure to enjoy the city. Overall, it was a fascinating experience, but most importantly I was able to potentially save a life.
For those looking to get involved or singed up for @BetheMatch I am in discussion with their team about setting up my own registration event. Please stay tuned for more details and please consider saving a life!
“It’s not about what you can do for oneself, but what you can do for others”