For Villanova’s Jake Prus, football can wait.
The junior biochemistry major and 6 foot, 6 inch, 300-pound starting offensive lineman for the Wildcats is set to miss three games as he donates bone marrow to a 65-year-old suffering from a blood disorder.
“It’s cool being able to save someone’s life by doing so little on my part,” Prus told Philly.com this month before he had the procedure on Sept. 10.
"My job last year was actually convincing the people who weren’t sure about doing it to do it. In a way, I convinced myself to do it while I was doing it all”
Prus, who said he wants to be a physician, signed up for the bone-marrow registry during his freshman year at the Pennsylvania university. Head coach Andy Talley encourages each of his first-year players to sign up for the registry, though just one in 540 people who sign up end up as a match, according to BeTheMatch.org. Only four Villanova players, including Prus, have been matches during the past 20 years, Philly.com reported.
“I was glad,” said Prus, who started each of Villanova’s 14 games in 2014. “When I initially signed up, I wanted to be one of the guys that donated. Coach Talley has us all volunteer to do it every year. My job last year was actually convincing the people who weren’t sure about doing it to do it. In a way, I convinced myself to do it while I was doing it all.”
The procedure itself takes about eight hours. In the days leading up to the donation, he received daily injections. Though he knows general details about who his bone marrow will go to, he can’t learn the recipient’s identity until a year after the procedure.
“There was a little apprehension when I first heard about it, because you think a bone-marrow donation is going to be kind of intense and take you out for a while physically and just drain you,” Prus said. “I’m not too worried about it, because, from what I’ve been told, the post effects aren’t painful.”
Prus, 22, played in Villanova’s 20-15 loss to UConn on Sept. 3, but he missed the team’s 14-7 win at Fordham on Sept. 12. He’s also likely to be out for home games against Delaware on the 19th and Penn on the 24th. The Wildcats then have a bye week, allowing Prus some more recovery time before he makes his expected return, at home, vs. William and Mary on Oct. 10.
Prus said his teammates fully back his decision, even if it leaves them a bit shorthanded as they try to contend for a Big East title.
“They are all happy about it,” Prus said. “They’re a little disappointed I’m going to be missing a few games, especially because this is such a big year for our program. But they understand.”