Brennan Amaral was your average college student in the midst of his sophomore year at Marshall University in West Virginia. He was busy with his studies in advertising and public relations, hanging out with friends, working in the Student Government Association, and a member of the campus activities board.
As the calendar flipped to October of the fall semester — October 10, 2017, to be exact — Brennan stopped by a donor drive that the Marshall DKMS chapter was holding on campus. He swabbed his cheeks with the kit that was provided, unaware that he was setting into motion a change from average college student to lifesaving hero.
I felt that if I could make a difference in somebody’s life by donating something that my body naturally makes and regenerates, why wouldn’t I?
And just as it was a regular day when Brennan made the decision to register, Brennan found himself in the student government office doing schoolwork when he received the unbelievable call that he was a match for a patient in need. Less than 1% of people are called as a match. It’s like hitting the DNA lottery. For Brennan, he was a perfect match for the patient that was searching.
According to Adam Guthrie, Marshall’s DKMS student chapter president, over 1,100 students have registered through drives held on the campus of Marshall University since 2016.
Before saying “yes” to becoming a donor, Brennan admits that he didn’t know much about the different processes of donation or the great need for donors, so this call made him excited but nervous. His friends thought he was crazy and his mom was unsure, but as he began to receive more information and understand the process, he decided to jump at the chance to save someone’s life. He put himself in the shoes of the patient’s family, and began to understand how important the donation is to them.
Just 265 days after registering to be a donor, on July 2nd, 2018, Brennan went through the process of donating his bone marrow. It went well for him and did not hurt as much as he thought it would.
The donation process and journey to the donation is amazing, and the feeling of knowing that you may be able to help somebody is a feeling that is almost indescribable.
Post-donation, Brennan now wonders about the recipient’s story and what life has been like for them. He hopes to someday meet the person and ask them about it. When asked if he would donate again, Brennan says he would donate as many times as he possibly can.
Brennan is preparing to go back to classes in a few weeks when his summer break is over. He will still be studying and taking part in his extracurricular activities, but this time he’s returning as a hero that has saved a life.