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Medical student donates blood stem cells shortly before starting clinical rotations

Jun 27, 2023 by Gift of Life Donor Story

In 2012, while at Tulane University, David saw Gift of Life Campus Ambassadors and volunteers asking people to join the registry at a drive organized to help a fellow student who was diagnosed with leukemia. After hearing them speak about the organization and its mission to save the lives of blood cancer patients, he decided to sign up – along with 600 others who also hoped to help someone in need. 

“I thought about the possibility of one of my loved ones needing a transplant and the relief I would feel about someone being a match for them,” said David. “I wanted to be able to provide that relief to someone.” 

Then, in 2022, David received a call from Gift of Life explaining that he had matched with a 58-year-old man battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. 

“In the 10 years since I swabbed, I had started medical school at Thomas Jefferson University, so I was in my apartment in Philly when I got the call,” said David. “I remember being excited that I was going to be able to help someone, and surprised at how simple the process was moving forward.”

This was not the first time he was contacted by Gift of Life.  

“I had received a call in September 2020 about being a potential match, but it never went anywhere,” said David. “They found a closer match for the patient, so I wasn't requested to donate.” 

Being in medical school, David’s course coordinator understood the importance of his donation, and made it easy for him to take the time off to do so. Travel and hotel accommodations for David were arranged by Gift of Life and he was provided with a meal stipend. Gift of Life also paid to have a guest, David’s mother, accompany him. 

“Gift of Life could not have made it easier,” said David. who felt that donating to a stranger was absolutely the right thing to do. 

“I always knew that, if asked, of course I’d save someone’s life,” he said. “For me, the fascinating part is that my stem cells are now in someone else. I wonder what that means on a physical, energetic, or spiritual level.”

While David did not have a personal connection to blood cancer when he joined the registry, that is no longer the case. One of his close friends was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoma in March.

“I can’t imagine being the person in need of a stem cell donation, knowing and feeling the deep uncertainty of a match,” said David. “He is remaining positive as his life has been changing. If you’re healthy, I think signing up for the registry is worth it.” 

Stem cell donor David recently graduated from medical school and is moving to Wisconsin to begin his residency. He donated peripheral blood stem cells to save the life of a man battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.It certainly is – along with David’s stem cell donation, four other Tulane alums who swabbed during the same recruitment drive have donated stem cells or bone marrow, saving the lives of five people who were battling to survive cancer. 

David, 29, is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson University where he received his Medical Doctorate. He is now moving to Madison, Wis. with his girlfriend where he will begin residency. In his free time, David is learning guitar and enjoys hiking, cooking, and hanging out with family and friends. 

David's swab kit was sponsored by the Weiser Family Donor Circle