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By Teague Magner
“I never thought that I would be called,” Conrad Wuorinen ‘16 said when talking about his experience with the Be The Match Registry®. In the spring of 2014, the brothers of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity organized a cheek swab for the Be The Match Registry®.
Wuorinen, a fraternity man himself, spent less than five minutes completing the swab and paperwork, never thinking that he would be contacted. That all changed this February when he got the call explaining he was a potential match while at the North Coast Athletic Conference Championships. He was surprised but had no hesitation to participate. He said, “The only thing that’s worse than getting is not getting matched.”
Barb Lawson the donor specialist from Be The Match relayed the details of what the process would entail. “About one in every 540 U.S. Be The Match go on to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) to a patient.” Wuorinen is proud to be one of those who has donated.
A few weeks after the phone call he had his initial blood draw for the program to determine whether or not he was a true match. After the analysis was completed, scientists determined he was in fact a perfect match for a 50-year-old woman with Leukemia. Be The Match then reconnected with him to inform him that the patient wasn’t in good health for the donation to be worthwhile and the process was postponed.
This August, Lawson reached out yet again explaining that the patient was ready to accept Wuorinen’s stem cells. Following that phone call he went to the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University for his first consultation that involved a four-hour physical examination. Sept. 9 was then set as the date for the stem cell extraction. For the five days leading up to Sept. 9 Wuorinen had to receive an injection of Filgrastim through each of his arms. This drug helped his body create more stem cells so that on the day of extraction there were plenty. This process seems daunting but was quite easy, Wuorinen explained; one day the nurse injected him at River Road Coffee Shop in Granville.
On the day of the extraction, Wuorinen went back to the James Cancer Hospital for a five-hour process. The doctors extracted his blood through an IV and the blood was then filtered in a centrifuge where the stem cells levitated into a bag that resembled “tomato soup,” according to Wuorinen’s nurse. His entire blood content was filtered and then pumped back into his veins. After the five hours, he was anxious for a meal at Cap City Diner and a nap. The side effect of the process are flu like symptoms, but Wuorinen said he was only slightly fatigued. His family and girlfriend were very supportive throughout the process.
Wuorinen is still unsure who his stem cells went to; all he knows is that she is a 50 year old woman living in the United States suffering from Leukemia. During a follow up call between Lawson and Wuorinen, Lawson provided Wuorinen with the opportunity to write a letter to his “match.” He will find out the outcome of the donation in the coming month.
This match would not have been possible without the philanthropy event that Phi Delta Theta sponsored in the spring of 2014. Brian Miller ‘16, philanthropy chair of Phi Delta Theta, stated his appreciation for Wuorinen and Be The Match. After Miller’s work with the program in high school he decided to implement it at Denison. Miller said, “Even before the news that Conrad was a match for a patient in need it felt great to have an active role in a great cause, but now, knowing that a simple drive for one day was able to save someone’s life, the feeling is like no other.”
Look out for Phi Delt’s Be The Match campaign this spring to participate in the cheek swab, for a chance to match for a cure.
Photos Courtesy of Conrad Wuorinen