PROVIDENCE, RI - Brown University junior safety Matthew Shannon (Mayfield Heights, OH) got the call in his dorm room a week before finals that he was a perfect genetic match for a patient who desperately needed a bone marrow transplant. The odds of such a match are about 80,000 to 1. He immediately agreed to a process of endless interviews and medical testing. Now, less than a month later, Matt boarded a plane with his mother to fly from Cleveland, OH to Georgetown Medical Center in Washington D.C. to undergo the procedure on May 31, 2012 that could end up saving someone's life.
With the support of his Head Coach, Phil Estes, the entire Brown Bear coaching staff, his teammates, family and friends, Matt prepared himself for an experience that, unfortunately, too few are able share in.
"The important thing to remember is, more and more people are getting diseases like cancer and leukemia every day, which means we need more and more donors to make a difference, to save their lives," Matt explains. "That is why when you have the chance to change someone's life, you need to step up to the plate."
"All of us at Brown are very proud of Matt," said Estes. "He has a lot of courage to do this and has the opportunity to save a life. Matt wants this to be a success for the patient, and is extremely concerned for the patient's future health. He's doing something that's very special."
Be the Match (http://marrow.org/Home.aspx) is the national bone marrow registry of over 8 million members. Registry members become part of every patients search for a matching marrow donor. You can make the difference by donating today. "Swab+DNA = Save a Life" is an easy swab of your cheek that provides a DNA sample to match against those of the many patients in need of bone marrow in their fight against cancer.
Many patients, especially those of racially and ethnically diverse heritage, do not yet have a match. In addition to attracting diverse registry members, patients need young donors. In fact, registry members in the 18-44 age group are 10 times more likely to be called as a marrow donor than other members of the registry.
"Get in the Game, Save a Life" is the on-going campaign started by Villanova head football coach Andy Talley (http://www.talleybonemarrow.org/), to involve young student athletes in the "Be the Match" program and add youth and diversity to the registry. Started over 20 years ago, Coach Talley has extended this drive to over 30 campuses, including Brown University.
Under Head Coach Phil Estes, Brown football became a leader in Rhode Island for providing support to the Be the Match registry, organizing campus drives that have added over 600 hundred new registry members.
While the results of the procedure will not be fully known for quite some time, it is important to note all of the time, effort and resources that go into trying to find just one match.
"The need is great and urgent and grows more so every year," Shannon said. "It is so simple, get a cheek swab, which adds your DNA to the registry and hopefully there is a match."