Twinsburg resident Alison Roskoph has a strong desire to help others. So when it came to aiding others by registering to be part of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, she immediately signed up.
“I think that everybody should give back. It’s saving a life,” said Roskoph, a 21-year-old senior at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. “If we’re not using certain things, then we can always donate. I’m big on donating objects or donating my time to help other people. I think it’s a very good thing to do.”
When Roskoph served as vice president of the Hillels of the Florida Suncoast chapter last academic year, she and a Hillel board member learned about the Gift of Life Foundation, a national public bone marrow and blood stem cell registry that has become a world leader in facilitating transplants for children and adults suffering from life-threatening diseases. They decided to hold a donor drive on campus to encourage students to register to become part of the foundation’s national database. About 100 students registered, including Roskoph.
As president of the Hillel chapter this year, Roskoph decided to hold another drive. But in October, two weeks before the drive was scheduled, Roskoph received a telephone call and an email notifying her that she was a potential match for a patient in the foundation’s system.
“I talked to them and learned about what they do and the procedures, and I decided to go through with it,” Roskoph said. “I thought about if I was in the opposite shoes, I would love for someone to register to help save me. I started this thing and I’m going to keep going. If I didn’t want to be a donor, I wouldn’t have registered.”
After taking blood tests and completing paperwork, Roskoph learned the first week of December that she was a full match. On Monday, Jan. 13 she will donate stem cells at a facility in Washington, D.C.
Roskoph said the outpatient procedure takes four to six hours. Four days before, she must receive injections of a specific drug that creates additional stem cells so she has enough of them in her system that she can donate. She plans to fly back to school the next day.
Donors are only told the age and gender of the patient receiving the stem cells. Roskoph said her cells will be given to a 57-year-old male suffering from chronic myelogenous leukemia, a type of cancer that starts inside a person’s bone marrow. The donor and recipient are not allowed to meet for at least a year, and it is up to the recipient whether he or she wants to meet the donor. Roskoph said she would be more than happy to meet the man who will receive her stem cells.
Roskoph said a few of her friends also have registered to be a part of the foundation’s database, but she is the first to find out she is a full match. She said she believes it is important for others to register and is looking forward to making a difference in somebody’s life.
“I’m very excited to do it,” she said. “I feel very honored to participate in this life-changing event for somebody.”