Jennifer Eskridge – Stem Cell Donor
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 9:56AM
Laurie Brady - Webmaster

For Jennifer Eskridge, a failed attempt to donate blood on a frozen February afternoon would ultimately lead to a life changing moment for a stranger she’d never met.

Because of a low iron reading, Jennifer was deferred from donating blood that fateful day at a drive being held at her hometown church in Lapeer. But despite being deferred from donating, Jennifer was far from deterred.

“I moved on to the next thing, which was signing up for Be The Match®,” says the wavy-haired, 20-year-old Central Michigan University student.

Be The Match is a global marrow donor registry that connects potential donors with patients in need of blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants. A transplant is often the last and best chance for survival from leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases.

Like many who sign up for Be The Match, Jennifer never put much stock in the thought that her phone would ring, telling her she was someone’s match. After all, on average, only 1 in 540 registrants are called upon to donate. But, after two years, a moment she rarely thought about happened this past January.

Jennifer’s phone buzzed from an unknown caller. On the other end of the call was a Be The Match representative, informing her that she was a potential match for a patient in need. As the calendar turned from January to February, Jennifer received a second call from Be The Match. This time it carried news that she was indeed a confirmed match for a 47-year-old male patient in need of a marrow transplant.

“I cried a little after I found out, but there was never a doubt in my mind that I would go through with it,” Jennifer recalls. “It’s a unique opportunity that not many people get to do and I’m really glad I’ve had the chance.” 

Once Jennifer’s decision was made, the process went quickly. There was a life hanging in the balance. She received medical checks to make sure she was able to donate, and was brought to Michigan Blood’s Grand Rapids Donor Center in March to fulfill her commitment and transplant hope to a patient she had never met and knew little about. 

“You find out quickly if you’re healthy too, because they test you for everything under the sun,” adds Jennifer, about the whirlwind experience leading up to her donation.

Decked out in Central Michigan University clothing, Jennifer arrived at Michigan Blood on a brisk March morning and gave her donation with a mixture of nervousness and excitement.

“I was really nervous leading up to today,” Jennifer says. “I thought it might be painful or debilitating, but the whole process has been so simple.” 

Throughout the fast-paced ride since her first call from Be The Match, its never been an uncomfortable experience. In fact, its been quite the opposite.

“I’ve had so much support from my family, my school, and Be The Match,” says Jennifer, smiling with pride. “Everyone has been so supportive. I’d do it again 1,000 times over.” 

For those considering joining Be The Match, Jennifer says it shouldn’t even be a question.

“Definitely join the program,” explains Jennifer. “You could be that one person’s chance, and it’s almost selfish not to do it.”

Contact Michigan Blood’s Be The Match program to find out how you can join Jennifer and millions of others in the fight to saves lives. You just might be someone’s best chance for survival.

Article originally appeared on Michigan Blood (http://www.miblood.org/).
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