Brown Football Player Matt Shannon Donates Bone Marrow
Friday, June 15, 2012
But Shannon is not celebrating himself. Rather, he emphasizes the pain that those receiving transplants must undergo, and how important it is for eligible donors to join the Be The Match Registry, which matches patients looking for transplants with potential donors. "The more people in the registry, the more people can be helped," Shannon said. The Be The Match Registry boasts more than 10 million potential donors, of whom about 1 in 540 ends up donating.
"Blessed with the opportunity"
The son of two registered donors, Shannon joined the Registry in April of his freshman year. Under the guidance of his Head Coach Phil Estes, the team has led drives with Alpert Medical School for the past three years to support "Get in the Game, Save a Life," adding more than 600 potential donors to the Registry. "Get in the Game, Save a Life," begun by Villanova football coach Andy Talley, encourages young student athletes nationwide to join the Registry.
A perfect match
Shannon was shocked to hear he was a match for a patient -- but even more shocking were further blood tests that showed Shannon was the best match for the patient, he said. There have been past students on the Registry who were notified they were potential matches, but ultimately they were not the best matches or were not willing or unable to go through with the transplant, Estes said. "An outstanding young man," as Estes described him, Shannon was able and willing to get in the game. "I think it takes a lot of courage to do what Matt is doing," Estes said, adding that Shannon is not worried about his own recovery, but the patient's well-being. "Giving," "humble," and "personable," Shannon will be a powerful contributor to the community, Estes said.
A two-hour procedure to save a life
Shannon took a trip with his mother to Georgetown Medical Center in Washington to undergo surgery, though counter to popular belief, donating does not always involve surgery. About 76% of the time, a patient's doctor requests a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, a non-surgical procedure, and about 24% of the time a patient's doctor requests marrow, which requires a surgical procedure with anesthesia. Shannon had the latter, undergoing a two-hour procedure during which they extracted bone marrow from his hip bones.
650,000 donors joined the program in 2011, helping almost 4,400 patients -- nearly half of those looking for transplants received them. Though the organization is not able to track how many people fail to find a match, patients face countless barriers beyond finding a willing and able donor, including lack of access to health care, no or limited insurance coverage, lack of timely referral for transplant and decline in health status.
Shannon will receive updates about his match and be able to meet him in one year if they are both willing. Meeting would be "special," Shannon said, adding "I'd definitely be open to it. If he's not, I'd definitely understand." For now, he is just hoping things go well on the other end.
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