Monroe County resident Corey Blackwell recently donated stem cells to a needy recipient in Washington, D.C.
Blackwell participated in the donation procedure through Be The Match, an organization operated by the National Marrow Donor Program that seeks to find suitable donors for those suffering conditions like leukemia and lymphoma.
He originally heard about Be The Match when his wife signed up several years ago. Blackwell later signed up in 2020 when he heard Kaylee Muertz, who attends school with Blackwell’s kids in Valmeyer, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia.
Blackwell said he signed up in the off chance he ended up as a match for Muertz, but doubted he would ever be asked to donate.
“Never thought, honestly, I would be called,” Blackwell said. “I mean, I’ve heard a few people say, ‘Oh I signed up 25 years ago and never got called.’”
While he didn’t prove to be a match for Muertz, Blackwell eventually received a call a few months ago alerting him that he might be a match for someone else.
“They got back to me and said I was this guy’s best match,” Blackwell said, “and it was, I forget exactly the amount that we had in common, but it was uncanny how closely our blood and everything was related.”
Blackwell said that after he finally got the blood test results back, he was given a physical and confirmed to be in good health. Blackwell was then started on a series of injections to help produce stem cells.
Though he experienced some aches and fatigue, his body responded well to the treatment. After five days, Blackwell flew to D.C., went to a hospital in Georgetown and started the actual donation process, which consisted chiefly of having blood drawn and transfused over four and a half hours.
While his fatigue continued following the donation, Blackwell said he was back to normal within a week and was glad to have had the opportunity to help somebody.
“Overall it was just an awesome experience to be able to give somebody a chance at life or at a minimum, give them hope for a while,” Blackwell said.
Blackwell said he would definitely participate in the program again should someone else require his help or if his recent donee requires another donation.
He would encourage those considering signing up for Be The Match to do so given his own positive, “seamless” experience and the fact that they treat the donor’s time and well-being with just as much importance as the recipient.
“The stuff that I had to go through was nothing compared to what somebody else has to go through, so anybody who’s hesitant or is on the fence, just do it,” Blackwell said. “I’d like to think that if me or my family or anyone I knew needed this, there would be somebody out there willing to do that and I would hope there’s other people who feel the same way. Just to give somebody the chance of life is beyond words.”
For more information on Be The Match, visit bethematch.org.