Police cadet Tim donated bone marrow to 7-year-old girl
When Tim joined Gift of Life’s registry as a volunteer donor in the spring of 2012, it was a “Why not?” decision—one that took all of 30 seconds and yet resulted in the opportunity to help someone in need. The drive was held at Ohio University in Athens, OH, where Tim was visiting his “then-girlfriend-now-wife” Elizabeth.
Tim was a student at the police academy when he got the call that he was a potential bone marrow match for a little girl suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of that day,” he said. Never questioning his decision to donate, Tim described the process as very easy. “I was asleep the whole time, so it doesn’t get much easier than that!” Tim also credits the support he received from Gift of Life, his family, and his colleagues, all of whom made his experience even better.
“When I first got the call that I could be a match, I contacted my sergeant to ask if we would be able to make the donation possible during my training if I was, in fact, selected as the best match," he explained. "My sergeant replied immediately, saying ‘I believe that we would be willing to move mountains in the event you are ultimately selected for this girl.’ The encouragement I felt in that moment cannot be overstated. It is wonderful to work for a department and leadership that are so truly committed to service.”
Though his donation saved a young girl’s life, Tim insists he is not a hero. “What I did was easy," he said. "My recipient is the strong one. She’s been the one fighting a difficult and courageous battle. She was just seven years old when she was diagnosed and deserves the focus.”
Tim, now a police officer in the city of Madison, WI, recently had the incredible opportunity to meet the recipient of his bone marrow. The introduction was made during the inaugural symposium of Gift of Life’s Campus Ambassador Program (an initiative joining together over 100 college students from across the United States who will spend the year recruiting new donors on their campuses and raising funds to cover the cost of swab kit testing). The emotional introduction was not only a special opportunity for Tim and his recipient, 11-year-old Diane, it was a powerful way to illustrate the lifesaving impact of Gift of Life’s mission to find a match for any patient who needs one and a fantastic motivation for the student ambassadors.
After the meeting, Tim said, “The entire experience was a whirlwind of excitement and nerves. Donating would have been 100% worth it even if I never got to know a thing about the person on the other side. But being able to meet Diane and her family brought the experience full circle and personalized it in the best of ways. To see her healthy and well and smiling was a complete and utter joy. She is just the sweetest little girl. Shortly after we were introduced, we were whisked out to take some photographs together and then we started walking back toward dinner. As we walked, Diane reached out with a smile and took my hand. It is little moments like that that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Diane’s father also had kind words following the introduction, saying, “We are grateful for everything and can only express our eternal gratitude to Gift of Life for finding Tim to donate to our daughter. Thank you for inviting us and showing us the kindness and love of life the students have.”
As luck would have it, Tim got another amazing call from Gift of Life, alerting him that he was a potential match for another patient in need of a transplant! He immediately went for blood work to confirm the match and though he was ultimately not asked to donate, he remains in the registry and hopes to be called upon again. "I was pretty disappointed to get that phone call," Tim said. "I had really been hoping things would align once again to allow me to serve another person in that way. But I could be a match again someday and I would, without hesitation, donate as many times as they would let me.”
Tim lives with his wife in Madison, WI, where he is a police officer. He enjoys reading, music, hiking, and camping.