Radio Deejay Sam, “The most fulfilling thing that has ever happened in my life”

Posted August 5th, 2013 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories, News
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Family-and-SamIt all started when Sam, deejay and program director for a radio station in Mobile, Alabama, agreed to air a Be The Match Registry® marrow drive live on the radio. The 4-day drive was held for a mother of four with leukemia, searching for her marrow match. On day four of the drive, Sam went through the process of joining the registry—live on the air during a 20-minute segment. That was on June 14, 1989.

In November of that same year, Sam was called as a potential match for a patient. When he found out that he was not the best match for that patient, he felt relieved, thinking “I’m off the hook.” But it was in late January of the next year when things changed, and he was brought in again to see if he was potential match for a different patient.

The call that changed Sam’s life

It was March 15, 1990 and Sam was on the air. He took a call from Heart of America, the donor center working with Be The Match®. The woman on the phone told him that he was a definite match for a 15-year-old boy with leukemia. The song playing on the radio at the time was, “How am I supposed to live without you” by Michael Bolton. Sam saw that moment as a sign, and decided he would do everything he could to save the life of that teenage boy.

Three months later, Sam donated bone marrow—taken from the hip, one of two methods of donation—for the 15-year-old boy patient in need. During the outpatient surgery, the doctors took nearly two pints of Sam’s life-saving marrow. One year later, Sam found out the first name of the boy who received his life-saving cells, Charles.

USA Today and Michael Bolton

That same month, USA Today did a story on Sam, gaining the attention of the singer who helped Sam make his life-saving decision, Michael Bolton. “I got a phone call from Michael Bolton, asking me to come to one of his shows,” said Sam. “I met him backstage. He was a huge supporter of marrow donation and a cure for leukemia.”

Forging a new path

After his inspiring donation experience, Sam realized he wanted to do something more. In 1991, Sam decided to switch careers with special interest in the medical field. He decided to be a radiation therapist.

Receiving the call—a second time

During the second year of his program, Sam received an emergency call stating that was a potential match, again! The patient this time was a one-year-old baby boy who needed a transplant very soon as his health was declining. As an advocate for Be The Match and previous marrow donor, Sam embraced the opportunity to donate a second time.

Four years after his second donation, he met his second recipient, Patrick, then a healthy four-year-old boy on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show.

The impact of Sam’s story

Through all of the media coverage Sam has received between his two donations, Be The Match has tracked more than one thousand people who have joined the registry because of his story. And to Sam’s knowledge, 12 people have even gone on to donate marrow for a patient in need.

“Donating was the most fulfilling thing that has ever happened in my life,” said Sam. “We were put on this earth to help people—we may be their last hope.”

Where they are today

It has been 20 years since Sam’s second donation. He is happy and thankful to share that both recipients, Charles and Patrick, are cancer-free and doing well today. Sam continues to be an ambassador for Be The Match telling friends, family, colleagues and complete strangers about the need for more potential marrow donors.

Sam works for Johnson & Johnson, a company with a credo based on helping patients. In 2012, the company displayed its credo and support for Be The Match by making a $10,000 volunteerism donation in Sam’s name due to his previous and current support of Be The Match.

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One Response to “Radio Deejay Sam, “The most fulfilling thing that has ever happened in my life””

  1. Jeff says:

    GREAT JOB SAM, my feelings are the same since my PBSC donation in June 2013, I am just a auto mechanic, but I am doing my very best to spread the word to join the Be The Match Program, the feeling is unforgettable and everybody should experience it, I like to also give credit to the transplant teams on both sides of the process they treat you like you are a hero when they really made it happen, what I/we did was just be there when we were needed, the few days of discomfort is nothing compared to what the patient and the families have been through, can’t stop thinking of how the patient is doing…


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