In 2004, Eric lost his friend to breast cancer, and that loss spurred his need to do something to help others. So, that same year, he joined the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry at a drive in Toronto. He went on with his life, never expecting a call saying he was a match; he believed even being considered as a match was like winning the lottery, a one-in a-million chance. He felt great about joining and knowing he could help someone if called, but he wasn’t expecting anything.
Then, in 2007, he did receive his call: he was a match for a 22-year-old male who had been diagnosed with nuroblastomic leukemia. He will never forget the day he got the call. It was a busy spring day, around 2 p.m., when he received a call from Gift of Life explaining that he was a potential match for a patient in need. After the call, he rang up his friends and family saying, “You’re never going to believe what just happened to me...”
He went through confirmatory typing in March, and through it all, he experienced a multitude of emotions. He says everything felt surreal; he felt disbelief that he would actually be the match for this patient, and he tried to put himself into the other man’s shoes. Though he knew the decision to donate was a big one, there was never a doubt in his mind: he had already committed to donating.
Eric donated bone marrow on August 2, 2007, and it was an emotional and psychological wake-up call for him. He realized all of the things he took for granted, like being able to grab a coffee at Starbucks on a whim, and now, he had a living, breathing person depending on him. He didn’t fully realize the gravity of the situation until he went through work-up, but he knew he was doing everything in his power to help this young man.
A year after the transplant, Eric received his first letter from his recipient. He says it was a difficult, yet amazing, letter to read: how do you accept thanks for saving someone’s life? His recipient told him about how he and his family felt when they found out there was a donor, and Eric was humbled. It’s hard to know the profound impact that a donor has on someone until they receive the type of letter Eric did from his recipient. Throughout the entire process, he knew that it wasn’t about him but about the young man’s life he was saving.