Tracey Drury | Bizjournals
Today I read a news release from the University at Buffalo about a sophomore student who last year helped save a life by becoming a bone marrow donor.
The student, Alex Teschemacher, says he signed up at the National Marrow Donor Program recruitment drive mostly to impress a girl. After submitting his info and a cheek swab for DNA, he was stunned a few weeks later to receive an email that he was among 12 people who were possible matches for a patient who needed a transplant. Subsequent testing showed he was the best possible match.
Teschemacher could have easily declined. He didn't know the person who needed the transplant. And the prospect of having a needle inserted into his pelvic bone during the outpatient procedure at Roswell Park Cancer Institute wouldn't exactly be pleasant. But he says he knew he would do go through with it.
Earlier this month, I wrote about the challenges faced by organizations like Upstate New York Transplant Services and the American Red Cross in finding and retaining donors. UNYTS showed me some crazy statistics about organ donation rates: About 100,000 people nationwide remain on waiting lists for organ transplants, with about 10 percent of total residing in New York. Western New York had 800 individuals on organ transplant waiting lists last year.
But only about 10 percent of New Yorkers have consented to help by signing donor cards. Even though I'm one of those people and I've always said I'd like to donate all available organs when I die, I was surprised to find out that I won't likely be able to unless I have a brain injury or die in a very specific way.
So kudos to Alex Teschemacher - and all the other individuals who take the time - and discomfort - to donate bone marrow, skin, tissue or whatever else they can. And here's hoping that maybe this year a few more people will consent to signing those donor cards by checking that box when they renew their driver's license.