Eric has worked the Salina Copy Co. for 22 years. Five years ago, while at a Kansas State University football game, he was approached by volunteers who were doing cheek swabs for DKMS, a national bone marrow donor program that works to match donors with cancer patients.
Hesitant at first, Eric finally gave into peer pressure as his friends began filling out the short form and getting their cheeks swabbed.
Eric said he had never even given blood before and was hesitant to even add organ donor to his driver’s license but decided to participate anyway.
Five years after being added to the registry, Eric got the call; a 30-year-old Canadian woman with cancer needed a bone marrow transplant and Eric was her only match.
“I questioned whether it was even real when I first got the call because they called the office while I was away,” Eric said. “So I did some research and the timelines matched up. It was all pretty strange at first.”
For Eric, there wasn’t much of a decision to make. He was flown to Washington, D.C. where he spent six hours in a chair as they collected stem cells from his blood. The stem cells saved the woman’s life. He later found out that the recipient wouldn’t have lived through the end of the month without the transplant.
Eric said the whole experience had a profound affect on him. He has since started working with DKMS, collecting DNA samples through cheek swabs to add people to the registry.
There are about 14,000 people who require this transplant each year and half of them go wanting. Eric said that everyone has a match out there, it is just a matter of finding them and adding them to the registry.
“We all have people we are matches with and it is just a matter of time before one of them needs. We were a match all along and it just came to the forefront when she was diagnosed.”
Eric said he will continue to put on drives and if anyone is wanting to be added to the registry, they can visit Copy Co. at 2346 Planet Ave for more information.