CLEMSON — When Clemson University biological sciences major Andrew White ran into a fellow Ultimate Frisbee Team member Kelly Rigsbee last October, she asked if he would help her with a recruitment event for the Be The Match bone-marrow donor program.
He agreed, and while there he registered as a donor.
Once on the registry, the odds of being selected as a bone marrow donor are only 1 in 540. Some people are on the list for years and never get called.
However, White received a call in March from the National Marrow Donor Program to tell him he was a potential match for a 48-year-old woman with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Thus began a process that continued until August, when he underwent a five-day procedure to donate his bone marrow.
White, whose grandfather had received a life-extending bone marrow transplant years earlier, was eager to help.
“I was amazed to actually match someone, and when I did, I could not say no and leave this woman to die,” said White. “Without donors like myself, countless lives would be lost and families would lose their loved ones. I could not stand by and let that happen, and I know many people would do what I did.”
To donate his bone marrow, White received two shots each day for five days to stimulate stem cell growth. On the fifth day, he underwent a six-hour procedure that drew blood through a needle in one arm, passed it through a machine that collected only the blood-forming stem cells and returned the remaining blood through a needle in the other arm.
Ashley Collier, account executive of Be The Match, said the most common side effects from donating bone-marrow include flu-like symptoms. There is no serious risk from receiving the injection and the side effects generally go away shortly after the donation.
“Andrew’s act of selflessness gave a patient at least another day with their family,” said Collier. “I am very proud of Andrew and thrilled I was able to add him to the Be The Match registry.”
White hopes to save more lives not only by continuing to recruit for Be The Match, but also by pursuing a career in medicine. He also serves the community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Oconee County animal shelter and a nursing home and physical therapy clinic near his hometown in Charleston. He also helped set up health clinics in Panama and Costa Rica through a study abroad program.
Be The Match is a community of patients, marrow donors, families, volunteers and health care professionals who deliver cures by helping patients get life-saving bone marrow transplants. Be The Match manages the largest and most diverse registry in the world to match patients with donors. Visit https://join.bethematch.org/sc for more information about Be The Match. To join the Be The Match registry in White’s name, visit http://join.bethematch.org/Clemson4Andrew.
This release provided by Clemson University.