Sports | 2:33 pm | April 13, 2013 | By Catherine Wang

Football player makes life-saving marrow donation

Yale football player and starting center John Oppenheimer ’14 donated his marrow to save the life of a 41-year-old man in Europe diagnosed with leukemia.

Oppenheimer, who registered to be a marrow donor at the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration drive his freshman year, was informed his junior year that he was the closest match to a patient in need. After speaking with his parents, Oppenheimer told the News that it was “really a no-brainer” to decide to go through with the donation, adding that the recipient of his donation may be a father or a husband.

“It is very rare to be a perfect match, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to make such an impact on a man’s life,” he said.

Oppenheimer is believed to be Yale’s first football player to donate after registering at one of the team’s drives. Because of privacy policies, Oppenheimer was given few details about the patient whose life he saved.

Five days prior to his donation, which took place in mid-January, Oppenheimer was given filgrastim shots to multiply the stem cells in his blood. The donation, which took place in mid-January, lasted roughly 5 hours. He had needles in both arms, one of which was drawing blood into a machine that separated out the stem cells, and one of which was returning blood back to his body. Though he said the donation made him tired, Oppeneimer was working out three days later.

“The experience was very easy and relatively painless,” Oppenheimer said. “It was such an easy way to make a large impact on someone else’s life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

This year’s Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive will take place on April 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Commons.

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