The Courier

COD Student to Offer Life-Saving Bone Marrow Transplant

Karla Villegas Pineda, News Correspondent

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The Courier spoke with COD student Noah Redmond about his upcoming opportunity to donate a life -saving bone marrow transplant. To sign up for the Be the Match stem cell donor registry, students and faculty can text CODHERO to 61474.

How did you find out about Be the Match?
Hearing about the registry was pretty circumstantial. I first heard of Be The Match through a podcast by h3h3productions. The podcast typically focuses on comedy and media personalities, but there was an episode that had a much more serious tone when a young man diagnosed with leukemia, Chris Betancourt, and his friend Dillon hill were featured. From what I remember, Chris describes his diagnoses as being particularly grim, “They have never seen this mutation before,” he said referring to his doctors. Chris and his friend talked on the podcast for about an hour, during which they went into detail about Be The Match’s registry and how it provides an outlet for patients to be matched with potential donors.

What encouraged you to join the donor registry?
After hearing about Chris’s story, I figured hey, the likelihood of me being a match for a specific person seems pretty slim, but why not? As you probably would have guessed, I certainly wasn’t a match for Chris–although he did actually find a match about two months after appearing on the podcast–but my submission did eventually result in a different match.

Joining the registry is not a commitment but agreeing to donate is. What drove you to actually commit to donating?
Well, I guess I don’t entirely know. I figured that if I were to hold the keys to someone’s life in my hands and not oblige, I’d be a much worse person than what I aim to be and see others being in the world. Admittedly, it’s a little freaky knowing that somebody is going to stick a needle into my hip, but the medical consequences of donating are very minor, and most people just feel some fatigue for a week. If it were reduced to its simplest form, Week-long fatigue [is better than] dying to leukemia, if that makes sense.

What is your donation experience like, so far?
It hasn’t been too crazy, or really that intrusive at all so far if I’m being transparent. Currently–at their doctor’s discretion–, I’m set to wait about 2 months before we follow through with the beginning pre-donation health evaluations and screenings. Part of me wishes we could get it done sooner, but I trust the doctors with Be the Match have both their patients and donors best interests in mind.

How long were you on the registry before being contacted to donate?
I was on the registry for close to a full year before I was contacted. That being said, I actually had forgotten I was on the registry until I received a surprising voicemail explaining the situation.

Would you encourage other people to join the donor registry and why? 
Absolutely. There are people out there in excess who are in need of healthy donors. Everyone from adults whose lives in one phone call seemingly come to a halt, to young men and women who are right at a phase in their lives where they are supposed to step on the gas, but find out that there may not even be enough in the tank to get them there, and even to children who I imagine are too young to fully grasp the awful reality they simply are unequipped to handle on their own. By joining the registry, we can help to mitigate so much suffering and catalyze fruitful lives for individuals who if born into a different time or place would certainly be hopeless.

Are you at all worried about the actual donation procedure?
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make my palms sweat a little bit, but to be honest, I think the only nerve inducing part is the health screenings they require (and administer free of cost) prior to donation. For all I know, in a couple months during my health screenings I could end up on the same registry; any of us could, really.

If presented with the opportunity, would you like to one day meet the person you are donating for?
I would love that. I want to see whose bones are going to be carrying my DNA and if it’s served them well, you know?

What would you say to someone that was on the fence about joining the donor registry?
I know it can be a little freaky sending in your genetic profile to someone, but the benefit is too great to ignore when you consider you could save someone’s life in exchange [of] whatever mild paranoia it can ensue. I guess I would say, ‘Look, nobody cares about your genetic profile as much as the individual’s who are literally in a state of hastened dying waiting for what I imagine seems to them like a miracle.’

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience with Be the Match?
Be the Match’s doctors and representatives have been respectful and fully transparent with me about the procedure and details regarding it. They’ve been patient with me, and all I have to say is that if you’re not doing anything on a boring afternoon, or a late night up on a computer while sleep eludes you, just sign up. It takes only a few minutes and requires nothing more than a cheek swab sent via US-mail on your part. A spontaneous decision could result in a life-saving coincidence.

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College of DuPage's student newspaper | Est. 1967
COD Student to Offer Life-Saving Bone Marrow Transplant