Student-Athlete Takes Part In Bone Marrow Donation
BETHLEHEM, PA --- Stephanie Pezzello, who will begin her junior season on the Moravian College field hockey team this fall, has a more important job later this month as she will be donating bone marrow to an 11-year old with leukemia after signing up to be a donor at the Be The Match Foundation – Get in the Game, Save a Life event hosted by the Greyhound football program the last two years.
"I was so surprised to hear that I was a potential match, let alone an exact match," Stephanie explained. "When I got the final word that I was an exact match, there was no question, I had to do it. I would have never gotten this opportunity if it weren't for the football team holding the Be The Match donor registry drive at school."
Thousands of patients with life-threatening diseases like leukemia, lymphoma or sickle cell anemia need a marrow transplant, but don't have a match in their family. More than 70 percent of patients depend on the Be The Match Registry to find a match.
Since finding out she was a donor match, Stephanie has gone through several steps with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). First, she received a 32-page booklet and had an interview to explain the entire process followed by a physical exam and several blood tests. Eventually, Stephanie will head to the nearest hospital that does the surgery to donate her bone marrow.
On average, the entire process can take 30 to 40 hours, including travel time, over four to six weeks, according to the NMDP. During that period and for at least a year after the surgery, Stephanie will only know the disease, age and sex of the patient that will receive her bone marrow for confidentiality while the patient will also be unaware of whom the donor is.
Stephanie will undergo surgery later in June to remove liquid bone marrow for the patient. General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure, and the marrow replaces itself completely within four to six weeks. She should be fully recovered by the time the Moravian field hockey squad reports to campus on August 18th to begin training for the 2011 season.
"Stephanie has been an integral part of our team the past two years," said head Moravian field hockey coach Amy Endler. "She always puts the team ahead of herself. This is such an unselfish thing to do, and it certainly shows what kind of character Stephanie has. I am very proud of her."
Over the last two years, the Moravian football program has signed up 664 people to the Be the Match Registry, including 457 during the first signup in 2010, which is when Stephanie registered.
"Stephanie is saving someone's life! Having the opportunity to make such an impact is truly amazing and is something she will always carry with her," stated Moravian assistant head football coach Jeff Pukszyn, who has organized the registration drives in Johnston Hall during April the last two years. "Hopefully, Stephanie being a match will help raise the awareness around the Moravian College Community, and we can continue to register more potential donors with the opportunity to save even more lives."
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 60 could potentially register and have the chance to save a life. A YouTube video provides brief explanation of the Be The Match Registry. Be The Match Foundation YouTube Video.
About Be The Match
Be The Match is a movement that engages a growing community of people inspired to help patients who need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor. The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), a leader in the field of marrow and cord blood transplantation, created Be The Match to provide opportunities for the public to become involved in saving the lives of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases. Volunteers can join the Be The Match Registry – the world's largest and most diverse listing of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units – as well as contribute financially to Be The Match Foundation or give their time. For more information, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.
Story provided by Moravian Sports Information