Dickinson College teams up with Be the Match to give the gift of life

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Dickinson College says you can help save a life, starting with just a few minutes of your time.

The school doing a drive with Be the Match, an organization that connects people who need marrow transplants to donors.

Michael Reilly, who lives in Cumberland County, learned about Be the Match when he was in need of stem cells.

“I found out I had two rare blood cancers in May of 2009,” Reilly told abc27. “At that point after seeing specialists around the country, I was told I needed a transplant within the next 60 days or I had about a year to live.”

“It’s like getting hit by a truck,” Reilly added. “I’m a young guy. I had a young family. and you want to be there.”

Be the Match found a donor for Reilly. After going through the life-saving process of undergoing a transplant, he eventually met and befriended his donor, who was from Germany. That’s why he had a big hug and a “thank you” ready when he met a different donor, Dickinson sophomore Claire Paulsen.

“One of my best friends was actually diagnosed with lymphoma,” Paulsen said. “And it really kind of rocked our small-town community, it was kind of the first glimpse of really sadness that I had seen in my life.”

That situation motivated Paulsen to sign up for the donor registry during a drive at Dickinson last year. A few months later, she started the process of giving marrow to a match.

“It was an absolutely fantastic process,” Paulsen said. “For someone who hates needles, I have no pain tolerance, it was so easy. Every step of the way someone was with me. And I’m so glad I was able to do it because I was able to help this person in their life and that just makes all the difference.”

Dickinson is having another drive. This one happens on Wednesday, March 25. People between the ages of 18 and 44 can register between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Holland Union Building on campus. Registrants should bring their drivers licenses and contact information for two other people who can be reached if Be the Match can’t get a hold of the person on the donor list.

People who can’t make it to the drive can still support with donations by going to www.bethematchfoundation.org/goto/DickinsonGITG

Registering only takes a few minutes. But a few simple steps can be life-altering.

“Get on there,” Reilly said. “Because eventually you’re going to know someone that’s in need. And you’re going to want someone out there for them. And hopefully there’s a match for them and they’ll have a chance at life.”

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