University of Oregon graduate donated stem cells to save life of woman battling leukemia
Jeffrey, a 29-year-old accountant, graduate of University of Oregon, and AEPi brother was surprised when a voice on the phone told him he had the chance to save someone’s life. He was a match for a woman in her 70s battling a form of leukemia whose best hope of a cure was a peripheral blood stem cell transplant. “Of course, I’m happy to help someone in need,” he said.
While on his Birthright trip to Israel in 2013, a Gift of Life donor recruitment coordinator made a presentation to Jeffrey’s group about giving back to the community by joining the registry. He swabbed his cheek, filled out his health questionnaire, and then didn’t think about it for five years.
“I admit when I got the call that I was a match I was skeptical at first – I can’t win a raffle, but I get to save a life!” he joked. “Seriously though, I never questioned going through with it.”
As Jeffrey prepared for the donation, he learned his forward-thinking workplace, Miller and Co. LLP, supports employees who are involved in transplants with time off to make their donation. His family also supported his decision, and his mother accompanied him to the collection center, where the Gift of Life staff welcomed him with the famous orange blanket signed with good wishes.
“As an accountant I get the pleasure of working with some very accomplished individuals,” said Jeffrey. “I can’t speak highly enough of my Gift of Life coordinators. They exude joy in what they do and it’s very contagious. I’m sure they deal with multiple donors daily, but I got the feeling I was their top priority from day one.”
Jeffrey couldn’t sleep the night before, but says his day of donation was “a fun day…loose and easy!” He, his mom and the nurses on duty at the collection center spent the time joking with each other and relaxing. But after the collection was done and he was on his way home, the lack of sleep caught up with Jeffrey. “I was asleep before my head hit the pillow,” he said. “There was no pain, I was just exhausted.”
“I would definitely donate again without hesitation. If you haven’t joined the registry, just do it,” said Jeffrey, who plans on writing to his recipient and offering her encouragement. “I would love the opportunity to meet her. I want to tell her how happy I am for her.”
Jeffrey enjoys CrossFit and playing softball, and is a huge movie fan, often mixing movie quotes into his daily conversation, and is pleased when someone gets the reference.