Zach’s just a regular guy–a junior at St. Scholastica in Minnesota where he plays basketball and football, interns during the day and works as a janitor at night. He hangs out with friends and family. He watches The Bachelorette.
But in spring 2015, something remarkable happened to Zach. One of his basketball teammates was running a Be The Match Registry® drive on campus. “He just asked me if I wanted to save a life,” said Zach. “So I did a cheek swab. I didn’t think much more about it.”
Zach certainly didn’t think he would end up being called as a match—becoming THE guy that would save someone’s life.
A life-changing decision
Zach was shocked when he got a call that he was a match for a father with leukemia. He was concerned about missing classes, how donation might affect his own health, and wondered if donating might end his basketball season early. But ultimately, donating was more important. “What made me decide to donate was that you only have one life on this earth, so you better make it count,” said Zach.
Getting ready, coping with side-effects
Zach was surprised by the number of doctor’s appointments needed to make sure he was the best match for the patient. He was also surprised by the side-effects he experienced while preparing to donate. Because he was asked to donate peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), he needed daily injections for a few days leading up to donation to increase the number of blood-forming stem cells in his bloodstream. The shots didn’t hurt, but they made him feel tired, weak, dizzy, and nauseous. “I did manage to play basketball while getting the injections. One of the games was one of my best–the other one wasn’t as good,” Zach joked.
Donation day jitters and recovery
Even though Zach knew what to expect on donation day, he was anxious. “It was the most nervous I have ever been,” Zach said. “I couldn’t sleep the night before. My adrenaline was going, knowing that I could save a man’s life.”
After donating, Zach missed a few days of classes to take it easy. “The hardest part was getting back on the basketball court while my body was recovering. I’m thankful to my friends and teammates for their support.” Two weeks after donation, Zach was back to feeling 100%.
A message of thanks
Around the date of his donation, Zach received a message from his patient through his Be The Match coordinator: Zach hopes they can to meet one day.
Today Zach encourages others to join the Be The Match Registry. “If you ever are able to donate, it is one of the greatest feelings,” Zach said. “Not too many people get to say that they’ve saved a life. It’s pretty cool.”
Learn how you could be THE guy or girl today!