“To Me, It Was a ‘No Brainer’,” College Football Player Stays True to His Commitment to Be The Match
Ready to Donate from the Start
From the beginning, Matt was passionate about the cause. “Watching the videos about Be The Match® really opened my eyes. After joining the registry I began to give blood on a regular basis,” said Matt. Two years later, in the spring of 2011, Matt received the call he never thought would come. “I was told that I was a potential match along with three other people for someone in need of a transplant.” Matt went on to complete further testing to see if he was the best match for that patient. When Matt was told that he was the best match for a 42-year-old man with a form of lymphoma, he was shocked but excited to move forward with donation. “I was so excited; I wanted to donate right away. I said ‘let’s go’ but I was told it would take some time,” said Matt.
The Competitive Spirit between Brothers
Matt was told that the donation method requested by the patient’s doctor was a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation. He was prepared for the possible side effects, but did not experience any reactions until halfway through the third day. “I had a massive headache and felt achy,” said Matt. “I told my coach and ended up sitting out of two football practices.” Even with the headache, Matt described the days leading up to donation as “not too bad.” As for the donation? Matt took his competitive spirit with him for the collection. “Within four hours, the apheresis center had extracted enough for two donations because my count was so high,” said Matt. “It was the highest count they had ever seen, until my brother.” This past fall, Matt’s younger brother John also donated PBSC to a patient in need. Nineteen-year-old John, who is also an offensive lineman on the University of Rhode Island football team, registered in the spring of 2012. “My parents thought John always wanted to follow in my footsteps,” said Matt. “Now he really is!”
Matt and John both received an outpouring of support from their friends, family and teammates, especially from people touched by cancer. “They thanked me for what I did. It was a reaction I wasn’t prepared for,” said Matt. “They were all so proud, but to me it was a no brainer.”
Meeting Matt’s Recipient and Their Football Connection
A year after Matt donated PBSC, the Orlando Cancer Treatment Center flew him down to Florida to meet Ken, his recipient. Ken, coincidentally a huge college football fan himself, is in full remission. After his graduation this past December, Matt traveled to Florida a second time to attend a college bowl game with Ken.
Matt plans to continue his education with a master’s degree in exercise science or strength and conditioning—while staying involved with Be The Match putting on registration drives. In the past three years of the football team’s annual drive program, the school has produced four donors—Matt, his brother John, his assistant coach and another college athlete.