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KYCOM student gives stranger new lease on life

May 25, 2016 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
A University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine student has shown the meaning of selflessness and compassion by her recent willingness to change a stranger’s life through bone marrow donation. Heather Snyder provided a second chance at life to a leukemia patient she has never met.

“I never got the opportunity to meet my grandfather because he passed away from leukemia,” Snyder said. “To know that I had the opportunity to match and donate to another patient with leukemia, hit very close to home for me.”

Leukemia is a type of blood cancer found in the blood and bone marrow that is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells.

When Snyder decided to become a bone marrow donor, she contacted the Delete Blood Center (DBC), an organization that registers as many bone marrow donors as possible to help patients survive blood cancer. Snyder registered in March 2015 and her information was kept on file in the event she was a match for someone in need.

In January, she was happy to learn that she was a match for a leukemia patient. She traveled to Washington D.C. for her bone marrow to be collected.

“The idea that I was able to extend to another person leaves me grateful and willing to donate again if ever necessary,” she said.

Snyder stated that nearly 70 percent of patients must rely on a stranger to provide them with a second chance at life. According to DBC, every year 13,000 people in the U.S. will need a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor and less than half will receive one.

Snyder said her role in the process of helping the leukemia patient survive is over but that it’s only the beginning of a healthy journey for the patient.

“I’m so blessed that I was able to help someone, somewhere in need,” she said. “To know this person will have the opportunity to live a healthy life again is a true blessing.”

Snyder hopes to inspire others to become bone marrow donors.

“I strongly encourage everyone to go to and order a swab kit and get registered,” she said. “I often wonder if someone would have been able to donate to my grandfather. I would have been able to meet him.”

Although she is not able to have contact or meet the recipient of her donation, Snyder receives updates on the condition and well-being of the patient.

Reprinted with permission from the Medical Leader.
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