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University of North Carolina Charlotte graduate donates cells for medical research

Mar 27, 2023 by Gift of Life Donor Story

Aidan joined the registry in 2019 at a Gift of Life donor recruitment at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, organized by Gift of Life's recruitment partner, Project Life Movement. A friend of his was volunteering and told Aidan about what the organization was trying to do. He liked what he heard and decided to swab his cheek. 

Two years later, Aidan, 25, received a phone call from Gift of Life saying he was a match, but not for a single patient. His tissue-type profile, based on Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA), matched a request made for medical research. Much of this research is for the development of new cellular therapies, and many research organizations are working to create advanced treatments for cancer and other diseases. 

When Aidan learned about the opportunity – and that his cells may help not just one transplant recipient, but hundreds of people – he said yes, and immediately told his parents and his roommates. 

“My mom was excited about this opportunity,” said Aidan. “My roommates thought it was a cool opportunity too.” His workplace was also on board, allowing him to use a special category of PTO set aside for community service so he would not lose any vacation time. 

Donors from Gift of Life’s registry are given the option to come to the headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla. for their collection at the Adelson Collection Center, and they do not incur any expense. Travel, accommodations, and any needed medical exams are arranged by Gift of Life, and a meal stipend is provided. Donors are also allowed to bring a guest to accompany them so Aidan decided to bring his mom. 

“The facility was great, I appreciated all the amenities to help make it comfortable and pass the time quicker,” said Aidan. “I just watched TV during my donation, my mom threw on some of her favorite Seinfeld episodes. My process was pretty smooth. After donation, I was pretty much out and slept the rest of the day, but felt great the day after that.” 

Aidan feels excited that he could donate for medical research. The cells collected for research are mononuclear cells, a mix of various blood cells including lymphocytes and monocytes. 

“I feel great that I had the opportunity to help a lot of people,” said Aidan. “It’s big for me as I am really into serving the public.” 

Aidan also wants people to know that donating is very easy.  “I would say that if you think it sounds scary, it really isn't at all, and it has the possibility of helping others!” 

Aidan, 25, is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He lives in Charlotte where he works as a court clerk. In his free time he enjoys watching hockey and exploring local breweries.  

Aidan's swab kit was sponsored by The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation Donor Circle.