Kelly’s Story: A Simple Swab is All it Takes

In March 2013, Kelly Sweat walked into a Salt Lake City concert hall expecting to hear some great live music. But something much more powerful happened that night -- and all it took was a simple swab of her cheeks.

By chance, Kelly stopped at a bone marrow donor registration table at the concert hall, filled out the paperwork and joined the registry.

The following year, when Kelly got the news that she was a match for a patient, the significance of that simple swab hit home.

“My first thought was sheer excitement – I mean, what are the odds that I would become a bone marrow match,” she explained. “When it was confirmed I thought to myself, this is fabulous!”

A supportive workplace and family made the process even more seamless. “It was nice to have so many people behind me,” she said.

In Spring, 2015, Kelly’s boyfriend accompanied her to the hospital where she donated her bone marrow to give a young man in Asia a second chance at life.

It was just really wonderful to be able to help. I mean goodness; I wouldn’t dream of not helping! It was easy and everyone took such good care of me.

For Kelly, the recovery was a breeze. “I felt no pain at the site where they do the bone marrow collection and never have,” she said. “It was like nothing ever happened.” Kelly’s boyfriend was so impressed by the process that when they returned home, he swabbed and joined the registry, too.

A few months later, Kelly received a letter from her recipient. “He was so gracious and so grateful – it really just sealed the deal,” she said. “There are many other things that are so difficult in this world. If this is all it takes to save a life I would be happy to do it again and again.

“I don’t know the numbers of registered donors on the list, but it sure seems like it should be much higher if so many people are still waiting for a match. Most people just don’t realize that you can save a life by doing something so simple.”