“Someone was depending on me … that is when it really sunk in that it was real.” Bopper’s Marrow Donation Story
The donation journey
After two years on the registry, Bopper got the much anticipated news that he was a potential match for a patient in need of a marrow transplant. This news, however, came in a very unexpected way. After moving away from his hometown, Bopper forgot to update his contact information with Be The Match1. The letter notifying Bopper that he was a match was sent to his old address, and unfortunately didn’t reach Bopper in his new location. Through an exhaustive search that led to a former neighbor, the letter found its way to Bopper.
Upon hearing the news, Bopper immediately contacted Be The Match to proceed with additional testing to be sure he was the right match for this patient. The patient was having complications, which meant that Bopper would need to wait to donate until the patient was doing better. Throughout the whole process, Bopper continued to be committed and dedicated to moving forward with donation whenever he would get the call. “Someone was depending on me … that is when it really sunk in that it was real.”
About a year later, Bopper was able to donate. He educated his family and friends about the donation process after gaining more information from his donor center coordinator and he went into the procedure with confidence. He could not fully imagine what his transplant recipient was going through and was eager to help in any way he could. Bopper donated Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC), one of two methods of donation, and had a quick recovery with little to no pain.
From strangers to life-long friends
A year after donation, Bopper was able to receive the contact information of his recipient, Andy 2. Since then, their lives have been changed forever. “We stay in contact at least once a week” said Bopper, “I try to involve him in a lot of things that are going on in my life because, since then, he is a part of my life.” They have been able to visit each other numerous times and their relationship could not be stronger.
Bopper, who is now 25, keeps the first email exchange they had to remember their journey. “I like to come back and read those … There were so many experiences that you just can’t really describe. It was a fun experience that I would love to do again!”
Today, Andy is 22-years-old and going to school. He was able to make his dreams of helping others become a reality by becoming a volunteer firefighter, and he enjoys riding his motorcycle. “He is living life to the fullest,” said Bopper. “It makes me so happy to know that I could help him!”
1 To update your contact information please call 1(800)MARROW-2 or visit our website at www.BeTheMatch.org
2 A donor and patient may exchange contact information if the patient’s transplant center rules allow, it has been at least one year since transplant, and both donor and patient consent.