How? How did I get on the registry? In 2000, a friend from high school, Kara Irving, was diagnosed with cancer again after a battle she fought while in high school. She was in need of a bone marrow transplant and a drive took place in Wilmington to see if anyone in town was a match. To give you an idea of how great Kara was, the high school gym was full of eager people ready to see if they could help. Myself included. I was not a match for Kara.
Why? Why donate now? After I was tested, I was asked if I'd be willing to go onto the registry for someone else. At the time, I honestly didn't think about it and I don't mean that in a selfless manner. I just said okay with every thought that I'd never hear anything about it again. And I didn't for 12 years.
When the text came from my dad, my first thought was not about donating. I'd forgot about being on the registry completely and then that day in the school gym came rushing back. All the feelings I'd had of helping my friend returned to me in a moment.
After completing a questionnaire and having several vials of blood drawn for further testing, I was told that I'm a match and asked if I'd still like to proceed. It all became real in that moment on the phone. Of course I'll do it. If it were me in need of that kind of help that may or may not save my life, I'd want the other person to do it. Life and death are always somewhere on my mind but lately have been weighing much heavier. When the news of my friend Mike Enriquez passing came, it hit me hard. I have been away from Chicago for quite some time but the impact Mike made on me is huge and will never be forgotten or overlooked. Kara Irving is the same and in many ways, I'm doing this for her. And for Mike. And for an anonymous man in New Jersey.