When Brennan Amaral decided to come to Marshall University, he did not realize he would have the chance to possibly save a complete stranger’s life. But when the university held its annual DKMS Bone Marrow Donor Drive last spring, Brennan figured if he could potentially make a difference, it was something worth doing.
"They called me in late April and told me I was a potential back-up donor for someone," he said. "So, I went and did blood work, and on May 17, they called and said I was an almost-perfect match for someone. All I know is that she is an adult female."
On July 2, Amaral, a sophomore public relations and advertising student from Martinsburg, traveled to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and its Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center to have part of his bone marrow removed. Immediately following the surgery, Amaral said he was in good spirits and feeling humbled by the entire experience.
"I’m feeling super tired right now," Amaral said. "It’s amazing to know I was able to give a part of me to someone who actually needs it. It’s pretty humbling to be able to save someone’s life."
Amaral said the recovery will take a total of six to eight weeks due to the amount of bone marrow taken.
Since the fall of 2016, Marshall’s DKMS student chapter has registered over 1,100 students, according to Adam Guthrie, DKMS chapter president.
"We formed a group at Marshall when I came as a freshman and since then we have hosted approximately eight donor drives with more scheduled to happen this fall," Guthrie said. "It is an indescribable feeling to know we had such a positive impact on someone’s life who may have otherwise not been able to live to their full potential. This is such a wonderful organization and Marshall University students are very proud to be a small part of it."
According to the DKMS website, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer every three minutes in the U.S. For many patients, a bone marrow or stem cell transplant is the best chance for survival.
Amaral and Guthrie both encourage interested donors to learn more about the process by visiting www.DKMS.org.