PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — John McCormick and Ryan Rothman, second-year medical students at Drexel University, are friends and share an unusual medical twist.
McCormick was a recipient. Rothman was a donor.
Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, like leukemia and any will need bone marrow transplants to survive.
An organization called “Be The Match” supports patients and has a registry of 19 million potential donors.
“It means a lot to me to have a friend who gave somebody else a second chance because I know how important that is to me,” McCormick said.
McCormick was diagnosed with leukemia when he was a 21. A bone marrow match couldn’t be found because he’s mixed race, so he had a stem cell transplant using blood from umbilical cords.
“When I was 21, I didn’t know much about what compassion was, or what giving back was,” McCormick said.
“I was just enjoying myself in college and when I got that, I really realized when you fall down, you really need some help getting back up. And that was the first time I really realized that compassion exists in this world and we need each other to survive.”
McCormick’s story inspired Rothman to join the “Be The Match” registry, with a simple mouth swab.
Turns out his bone marrow was a match for an unidentified woman with leukemia.
“It’s just a surreal feeling knowing that with very minimal effort on my part I was able to save someones life who, like john said, was on the brink of death,” Rothman said.
He says the donation of blood was simple and painless.
“It meant the world for me that he was willing to donate because I know as a recipient how important it is that people donate and give somebody a second chance because I wouldn’t really be here if I didn’t have a second chance from a donor,” McCormick said.
Aiming to help more people like McCormick and Rothman, “Be The Match” will have it’s annual walk run this Saturday.