Campus bone marrow drive saves lives

Marshall Old Main in summer

A bone marrow drive on Marshall University’s campus made all the difference in the life of a young girl and changed the life of a Marshall University student.

Cody Fuller was an exercise science student at the time, on a casual scroll through the Memorial Student Center in the Spring of 2019, when he saw friends at the DKMS Bone Marrow Donor Drive table and decided to participate.

Deutsche Knochen Mark Spenderdatei or DKMS is an international nonprofit bone marrow donor center based in Germany.

Little did Cody know that he would be a match for a one-year-old girl named Ella Siders. Ella had acute myeloid leukemia and Cody Fuller was a bone marrow match. Fuller underwent a procedure on February 17, 2020, just 3 days before his 21st birthday, to provide the bone marrow. And a day later, on February 18, Ella Siders received his donation and her life was saved.

Cody said to be able to help this young girl and this family meant the world to him.

“The donation experience has been the most special thing I have ever been a part of,” Fuller said. “The feeling to help Ella was unlike no other. I was so glad to help a little girl in her fight against cancer.”

Commenting in a video done by DKMS, Christina Siders, Ella’s mom, says Cody has meant the world to their family.

“This process has been hard and it’s nice to have a reason for celebration,” Siders said. “Cody has always been positive and a symbol of optimism and cure.”

The bone marrow drive at Marshall was organized by nursing graduate Adam Guthrie who now works as a registered nurse for the Charleston Area Medical Center and Cabell Huntington Hospital. He’s currently working on his master’s in nursing to work as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Guthrie has coordinated approximately 20 drives at Marshall registering over 1,500 students, including the drive where Cody Fuller donated.

“I am very surprised at how many students have matched because you have a less than 1% chance of matching,” Guthrie said. “I truly never thought our involvement with DKMS would be where it is today.”

Guthrie says a donation has less than a 1% of matching and yet there have been seven matches at Marshall. Fuller plans to start this fall at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

For more on Cody and Ella’s story visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ngv87W3VRUo.