My name is Bert Ortiz. I have three children and three fantastic grandkids. They bring me so much joy and happiness.
My journey with Be The Match began in October 2016 when I received an allo stem cell transplant.
I was diagnosed with a type of leukemia called prolymphocytic leukemia (PLL). At the time of my diagnosis, I had been living in Florida for 10 years and nearing the end of my 34-year career in the newspaper business—I was on the business sidenot a writer.
An opportunity to give back
After my stem cell transplant in 2016, it took me a few years to get back to feeling like my old self. In early 2020 I began volunteering with the Peer Connect Program at Be The Match.
One day I received a video from Amy Bigot who works in the Be The Match Foundation. The video showed couriers traveling with marrow/stem cells through the airport.
I immediately felt like this was a way I could give back for receiving another chance at life.
In 2021, I became a courier and so far I have completed 15 trips. I often get asked why I would do this during a pandemic and my answer is that I am very careful and that Be The Match needs my help.
The joy of being a courier
I am so glad that I joined the courier team. The training, mentorship and continued assistance I’ve received has been instrumental.
I have interacted with extremely nice staff at both pickup and drop off locations. I always express how thankful I am for the part they play in the process.
One trip was very emotional for me because I delivered to a children’s hospital. It hit me that this delivery was intended for someone young who was fighting a battle for their life.
I get such a great feeling after a trip because I feel I played a part in giving someone a chance for a healthy life just like a courier did for me.