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College student travels across the country to donate life-saving cells

While many college students were studying for finals or preparing to go home for the holidays last December, one junior at Wofford College in South Carolina was traveling to Seattle to donate blood stem cells to potentially save a stranger’s life.

Emily joined the Be The Match Registry® in 2020, encouraged by her mom, who’s a nurse and member of the registry. She also was inspired by HOSA - Future Health Professionals, a global, student-led organization that empowers young people to pursue careers in health care. Emily has been a part of HOSA since she was 14 years old.

When HOSA and Be The Match kicked off a partnership, Emily requested a swab kit to join the registry and see if she could be a match for someone in need.

“HOSA members have that compassion, and they have the drive, and so I think that makes HOSA and Be The Match, the partnership between the two, the most perfect thing,” Emily said.

Emily got the call that she was a match for a searching patient in August 2021. “When I got the call, he goes, ‘Do you know why we’re calling you?’ and I cried,” she said. “I said yes 5 million times on that phone call.”

When she found out that she would have to travel across the country, to the Be The Match collection center in Seattle, to help a man battling a rare blood cancer, she didn’t hesitate. “I have had no reservations about the entire thing,” she said. “This has been, literally, the easiest decision and process I’ve ever been through in my entire life, and I’d do it again.”

The process didn’t hurt, said Emily, who donated peripheral blood stem cells, a method similar to donating plasma that’s used 85% of the time. The procedure requires filgrastim injections for five days leading up to donation. Those shots led to a little soreness, but, Emily said, compared to what the patient was going through, it was nothing.  “I’m honored that I got to do that,” she said. “I would do it a million times over again, if I could.”

If you’re interested in joining the registry and are between the ages of 18-40, text “BeLikeEmily” to 61474 or visit Be The Match will mail you a free cheek swab kit.

Watch more about Emily’s donation journey.