Every year, nearly 20,000 individuals in the United States could benefit from a bone marrow transplant. Many of these individuals have life-threating diseases, such as chronic myeloid leukemia or multiple myeloma.
Still, donating bone marrow may seem too hard, too cumbersome, too extreme. Donating bone marrow isn’t as easy as giving blood, but it can make all the difference to another individual and their family.
Here’s why four different people decided to donate their bone marrow.
Mike Fantini, 29
Donated in 2013
For me, it was a no-brainer. I felt just so fortunate to be able to help a family in need and to save a 10-year-old’s life. I can’t imagine any reason I wouldn’t jump at that opportunity and do what I can to help.
What really changed my perspective on things was when we finally got to meet face to face. Our families got together for dinner and had a great time catching up and getting to know one another better. It was a wonderful night and became a very eye-opening experience for me.
I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was such an easy procedure for me personally, and literally saved someone else’s life and made a profound impact on his family. I can’t think of any reason I wouldn’t make that trade every time. It’s without a doubt the most incredible experience of my life, and I’d love to be able to do it again if given the opportunity.
Kevin Trizlla, 43
Donated in 1985
The reason I decided to donate my bone marrow to my sister, Jo, was simple: It was the only chance we had to save her life. The doctors had several other routes that were virtually pointless, as there was a zero-survival rate.
Being only 11 years old, it was hard for me to process that my marrow was the only hope in having a sister in the days, months, or years to come. It was my donation, or my sister wouldn’t live.
I was told very bluntly that the odds weren’t in our favor for her survival. My parents took that to heart. They wanted to shelter me and make sure I didn’t carry the burden on my shoulders if the “experimental transplant” didn’t take. But the motivation was very straightforward. If I didn’t donate, there was almost no chance of my only, older sister’s survival.
I would absolutely without a doubt do it again. The question is almost laughable. Not only would I donate for an extremely close family member that had me and only me for any chance to live, I would do it again for an absolute stranger. The reward is something few people in this world can have — the gift of giving life to another. Don’t pass up the opportunity to give life in a world were life is so fragile and taken too often!
Jacob Gribb, 23
Donated in 2015
I had my cheek swabbed spring semester of my freshman year and honestly didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until May 2015 when I received a call from Be The Match for further testing, and I was selected as the best donor. I didn’t think twice about donating or didn’t have any second thoughts while going through the process or even now looking back at it. It was an opportunity to (literally) save someone’s life and give them a piece of me so they could continue to live.
Around 50 percent of the people who do receive the phone call to donate decline further testing and donating. … The whole donation process (on the day of donating) was seven hours for me personally … I either slept or watched television. I would compare it to donating blood and the aftermath soreness of a football game or intense exercise workout.
Sam Philippi, 20
Donated in 2016
I donated as a result of being matched just months after our football team’s bone marrow drive at our school. We were trying to get students to sign up and swab their cheek. Before I started to get students to sign up, I signed up myself. This drive was held in mid-April. Then in August I got the call and was told I was a possible match. After knowing I was the match the recipient needed, I felt an obligation to do it.
My mother is a stage 3 breast cancer survivor, so I can relate to cancer. If you or anyone you love had cancer and were told that there was a cure for that cancer, you would be overjoyed. The recipient was told that there was a match, and they were probably waiting for my response. I put myself in the shoes of that family and I knew I could not let them down and it was something I had to do. In my mind, you can’t say no to saving someone’s life even if you don’t know them at all.
This process has humbled me and given me another outlook on life. I’ve been blessed to go through this process, and I would love to do it again so I could help another person in need.