UWM at Waukesha alum, Sydney Vinyard, recently made a huge difference in someone’s life through the Be The Match program. Sydney is currently attending UW-Milwaukee pursuing English and Creative Writing, but during her time at the UWM at Waukesha campus, Sydney was very active in campus life. Last January, while serving as President of the campus student government, the Vice President was approached by a professor to see if they would be interested in hosting a Be The Match drive. The event was held to grow the bone marrow registry in honor of the spouse of another faculty member on campus who had just been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. Here is the rest of the story in Sydney’s words:
“Of course, we said yes. The drive was held on February 4, 2020 and while I was not a match for the individual who we were doing the drive for, I hoped that eventually I could be the difference for someone else in need of bone marrow.
Then, on November 25, 2020 I was contacted by Be The Match and was told that I was identified as a possible match for someone with a type of blood cancer. By the end of that week I received more swab kits to send off for further testing to see if I was the best possible match — and on January 6, 2021 I received the news that I was, and my donation would be taking place in February. That began a process of scheduling a physical to make sure I was in good health. Once I was cleared, the dates were set to prep me in the days leading up to my donation.
Instead of having to collect bone marrow, there is a far less strenuous process for harvesting those stem cells, and it’s called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation. In the days leading up to the donation I received a drug that increased my white blood cell count, moving the blood stem cells of my marrow into my blood stream, thus allowing for a donation that looks more like a plasma donation.
On the day of donation I went to a near by blood center in Milwaukee, where I met the nurse who would be with me for the whole process. I was attached to their apheresis machine, which takes blood from one arm, runs it through a centrifuge to separate the different blood cells into layers, where they can collect the stem cells, and send the remaining blood back into my body. In my case, this process lasted about 6 hours. Now, my donation is off being handled by a special courier who will deliver the donation to the patient who will then begin prepping for the transfusion.
I can’t thank the Be The Match team enough and everyone who helped along the way. It’s really difficult for me to acknowledge the impact a donation like this makes.
To my recipient: I hope this donation gives you a second chance at a life you deserve. From my perspective, this was no inconvenience to me and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
We are constantly amazed by the difference our students make in the world. This is why we encourage students to get involved on campus in any way they can! If you feel inspired by Sydney’s story, sign up to donate or host a drive on Be The Match’s website here.