It’s normal for college students to make many life-changing decisions, but during his senior year C.J. Logan made a life-saving decision: he became a bone marrow donor. The long-time student-athlete recently shared his personal story with BlackDoctor.org, highlighting the critical need for more Black donors.
As a football player, I spent years focused on what my body could do on the field. I put in hours working out and practicing to stay in peak condition.
But one of the best things I’ve been able to do with this body had nothing to do with sports. It was getting the chance to save someone’s life by donating my bone marrow.
I’m part of the national Be The Match Registry®, the world’s largest listing of potential marrow donors. I learned about the registry when I was a freshman at Villanova University. Coach Andy Talley, who retired in 2016 after 31 years as Villanova’s head football coach, has been so passionate about getting people to join that he started his own bone marrow foundation. I’m so glad he recruited me.
What Be The Match® does is really important – donating bone marrow can be the cure for a person living with a disease like sickle cell anemia or a blood cancer like leukemia. That’s amazing, if you think about it. Regular people can be a cure for cancer.
But matching patients with a donor is harder than you’d think, especially for people who look like me.
Until I joined the registry, I had no idea that patients are most likely to match someone of their own ethnic background. Or that Black Americans, who need a bone marrow transplant have the lowest odds of finding a match. This is because, we have the most diverse genetic tissue types compared to other ethnicities, and have fewer potential donors in the registry.
Saving a patient’s life can come down to one person out of millions.
Joining the registry is easy – just a little cheek swab. I did it as a freshman in 2013. Two years later, I received the call. A 32-year-old woman desperately needed a bone marrow transplant, and I was a match.
At first, I wondered if my teammates were prank-calling me, just because it’s pretty rare to match with someone. But I quickly realized that it was legit, and I absolutely wanted to help.
The process was pretty simple. I had blood drawn to make sure I was a definite match. Then, I had some tests done and waited a bit while we figured out scheduling. I finally donated my marrow during my senior year of college, right after football season ended.
On the day of my surgery, everything went smoothly. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, because despite a long history of playing contact sports year-round, I never had an injury great enough to require surgery – and I’ve been playing contact sports since I was six! But with anesthesia, the actual procedure was painless.
It took about two weeks to recover. My back was a little stiff, and I was sore, but nothing too crazy. I’ve felt more pain after a really intense football game. It was more than worth it, knowing that I was helping save a life.
Ever since I donated, I’ve been telling people: to sign up for the Be The Match Registry.
There’s a critical need for bone marrow donors between the ages of 18 and 44, especially Black Americans. We can help each other.
If you join, and they call to say you’re a match, it’s natural to be nervous. But please don’t let it stop you. I promise that you can do it. You’ll be supported every step of the way. And you’ll be a hero to someone in your community who’s fighting for their life.
When I got the call, all I could think about was my mother, my aunt, and my younger sister. What if they needed help? I’d hope that someone would step up and help them, no questions asked.
Donating my bone marrow was life-changing – for me and, more importantly, for the woman who fought leukemia and got a second chance at life. As Coach Talley told me during my freshman year at Villanova, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
You could be someone’s cure, too. Visit BeTheMatch.org to join the registry today.
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