A Western Illinois University linebacker soon will give an infant suffering from a rare immune disorder a precious gift in the game of life — a bone marrow transplant.
School officials said Sophomore Jordan Veloz, 20, signed up last year during a bone marrow registry drive on campus. The "Get in the Game" drive, a national initiative that was began in 2008 by Villanova Coach Andrew Talley, is designed to build the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
The player was informed last month he might be a match. It was confirmed this month he is a match.
"It hasn't really hit me yet, but I feel like I am just doing what I should do," Veloz said. "But there are times I stop and think, 'Wow, it is all in my hands.'"
Veloz said he hopes when people hear about his donation they will feel inspired to go out to get registered. He said that registering takes just about 15-20 minutes, followed by swabs taken from the donor's mouth. The DNA goes into the national bone marrow registry.
"You never know when you or someone you know will need help, and if you get a chance to help someone else, why wouldn't you?" Veloz said.
The president and co-founder of Western Illinois' Be the Match chapter president Grant Severs said a patient's likelihood of finding a matching donor on the organization's registry is estimated to range from 66-93 percent. He added that each year, more than 12,000 patients are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, such as leukemia, whose best hope for a cure is a marrow transplant.
"A child will have a second chance because JJ joined and said 'yes' when he was called upon," said Amy Brousseau, community engagement representative for Be the Match. "My heart is sincerely full."
Veloz said he doesn't know the infant or the family. He hopes that in a few years he'll be able to meet the child who benefits from the transplant. Even though he won't meet the child and the family immediately, he hopes to be kept apprised of the child's condition.
Veloz, a sophomore exercise science major from Oak Creek, Wisconsin will make the donation this summer.