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Why NFL Player Brandyn Harvey Wants Everyone to Be a Blood Stem Cell Donor

Photo: Courtesy of Be the Match

Former NFL player Brandyn Harvey joined the Be The Match Registry when he was a freshman at Villanova University through Coach Andy Talley’s “Get In The Game” program. Be The Match is a non-profit organization that helps patients with life threatening blood cancers, like leukemia, and find an unrelated blood stem cell donor. Harvey and his teammates joined at the same event. The process was simple: swab the inside of your cheek and mail it back to Be The Match and wait to be called to donate.

Getting the call​​​​​​​

Harvey got that call in 2016 and was identified as a match for a patient in need. He was committed to donating and went through the necessary additional testing, but the patient ended up not needing a transplant. However, Harvey was called again for another patient in late 2017. Again, he was committed to helping and went through the process once more — this time all the way through donation. Harvey says he was grateful for the opportunity to help.

Saving a life

A patient’s likelihood of finding an available donor on the Be The Match Registry ranges from 23 to 77 percent, depending on ethnic background. That’s because tissue types used to match patients and donors are inherited. Having more people sign up and be fully committed to saving a life helps improve those numbers. Harvey knows that being called as a donor is not a common occurrence, but when it does happen you have the chance to save someone’s life.

“It was amazing. There’s a one in 430 chance that you will be a match for someone and I was that one,” Harvey says. “It’s an honor to be able to help someone like that and be the only one who can help them in that way.”

If Harvey has one message for people who may be hesitant to join the Be The Match Registry it would be don’t hesitate.

“One of the things I was thinking when I got the call was ‘What if this was my daughter? My mother? My sister?’ And I would want someone to act on it, like I did, and be willing to donate.” Harvey says. “Because that could be your family and you have to power to help them go on to live their life.”

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