Join Registry Give Now
Join Registry Give Now

FAU lacrosse player saves life of 14-year-old boy

Mar 23, 2022 by Gift of Life Donor Story

Adam, 19, is an architecture major at Florida Atlantic University, a member of the mens lacrosse team defense, and now, he’s a lifesaver. He joined Gift of Life Marrow Registry in November 2020, and within months was called as a match. 

“Our team president signed us up to have Gift of Life come out to the field,” said Adam. “At the time we were practicing off campus, and they drove over to meet us. I had no idea what to expect, but after the presentation I thought I might as well join the registry. If you help someone that’s great, so I went ahead and signed up.”

Because Adam’s family members have experienced cancer, he understood the importance of donating. 

“I already knew if I ever had a match I would probably donate,” he said. "I have first-hand experience with how hard it can be when someone close to you is fighting a life-threatening disease. That helped me make the decision.” 

He heard back from Gift of Life in just four months when a Donor Services Coordinator called Adam about being a match.

“I didn’t expect to ever be a match for anyone, ,” he said. “My parents, my teammates and I all got really excited, but then it seems like it didn’t work out for that patient.” Then, in November, Adam heard from Gift of Life again. 

Donating stem cells is so easy for the reward it provides, both for you and the person you help. To have the opportunity to bless someone else is a blessing of its own.

“Everyone was super happy for me when I got the next call that I was a match for a teenager battling Fanconi anemia,” said Adam. “My coach, Stavros Neocleous, said, ‘Take as many days off as you need. We got you to sign up for this, it’s for a great cause, so please take it seriously.’” Fanconi anemia is a rare, inherited bone marrow disorder that results in reduced production of all forms of blood cells. The condition can severely limit a child’s life expectancy and the only known cure at this time is a peripheral blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant. 

Adam is the first Gift of Life Marrow Registry donor from Florida Atlantic University. He's an architecture major and a member of the men's lacrosse team.“Adam is a fantastic young man and is the ultimate teammate; he is willing to do anything for the betterment of those around him,” said Coach Neocleous.  “This is evident in the effort he puts forth in all aspects of his life. Gift of Life gave the FAU Lacrosse family the opportunity to participate in their donation program. Adam was called upon to help someone when it mattered most and he delivered. We are extremely proud of Adam and very thankful to have him as a part of the FAU Lacrosse family. We are also extremely grateful for all of the work Gift of Life does for our community.”

“From the time I swabbed until I donated was about a year,” said Adam, who lives in Palm Beach, near Gift of Life’s Boca Raton headquarters and collection center. 

“During donation I just relaxed,” said Adam. “I was busy with a lot of other things in my life, I’m an architecture student so between that and lacrosse it was busy. It was a blessing to have a day where I couldn’t do any work, couldn’t do activities, I just got to relax. It was nice to just watch Netflix.” 

He was also impressed with the collection center and the staff, who make every donor’s experience feel as special as the gift they are giving to a stranger. 

“My experience was awesome,” he said. “I was expecting it to be a clinical setting, but the environment is great, the building is beautiful, the food was good, and everyone is right there the entire time if you need something.” 

Even beyond the great experience, Adam is grateful for the opportunity to help someone in need. 

“At the end of the day the only reason I did it was to help someone else, especially someone with so much of life still ahead of him,” he said. “Donating stem cells is so easy for the reward it provides, both for you and the person you help. To have the opportunity to bless someone else is a blessing of its own. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss because you can give someone their life back.” 

Adam expects to finish his architectural degree and graduate from Florida Atlantic University in 2025. He is in the Lacrosse Club and in his free time also enjoys skating and surfing.