WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — The West Chester University football team is making history not on the field, but with a life saving medical donation. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl explains.

Even off season, the West Chester University football team works out together. They’re dedicated on the field and off. Together they all participated in a bone marrow drive getting tested as potential donors. But they never thought it would turn into anything.

“I think it’s crazy. Who would have thought,” said Bill Pommerer, West Chester University Wide Receiver.

Ordinarily only one in 540 turn out to be a donor, but here three players on the 99 member team are matches.

The bone marrow registry identified three patients whose lives could be saved by the players.

“It’s amazing that my teammates and I can actually help someone who’s actually really sick,” said Dominic Dovidio, West Chester University Offensive Lineman. The 22-year-old was the first to make the donation.

“Worse part about it is the needle sticks,” said Dominic.

Stem cells are being removed from his blood that will be used for a bone marrow transplant to save the life of a 52-year-old woman.

“It’s gotten a lot easier over the last few years,” said Dr. Pamela Crilley, with Hahnemann University Hospital. She says there are now two ways to be a bone marrow donor, with either the traditional surgery to remove some marrow or with stem cells from blood. It depends what the recipient needs.

“It gave me another chance of life,” said Matthew Pettit, who was saved by a bone marrow transplant 16 years ago. The 38-year-old says it was his only hope after being diagnosed with leukemia.

He and Dr. Crilley are amazed and impressed that three West Chester football players are matches.

“It’s a miracle. It’s a living miracle,” said Matt.

“I think it’s great,” said Dr. Crilley.

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For Dominic and another player Jared Bonacquisti, the donation involves a week of injections to stimulate stem cell production, that causes achiness and flu-like symptoms. And then there’s the donation that takes hours. But they were willing.

“It’s really exciting knowing that I’m a match to somebody, and I can actually potentially help this person and continue their life,” said Jared.

“It’s a great feeling, I mean think would be a great feeling ya know, I actually saved somebody’s life. I don’t know how many people can say they did that,” said Bill.

The players are not told who they are helping because of confidentiality rules.

Doctors say there are no lasting health effects for the athletes.

There is a tremendous need for more donors.


Be the Match Registry

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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