Brown University football player Matt Shannon offers a most precious gift – a bone-marrow donation

Posted: June 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Cleveland, Ohio - When Matt Shannon clicked on the Be The Match email last month, he figured it would be another form letter. One of the emails telling him about another bone marrow registration drive, or something complimenting him, again, on becoming a part of the registry with his entire Brown University football team.

But when the Mayfield Heights native read the email, his world stopped for a second.

"You're a match," it said.

Of the 650,000 who register for the Be The Match Registry each year, only about 1 in 40 find a match, someone who is in need of a bone marrow donation and who shares a compatible biological makeup. Of those who are a tentative match, only about 1 in 540 actually donate bone marrow.

On May 31, Shannon became one who not only was found to be a match but one who also donated his bone marrow for a patient in need. The rising junior who is a safety on the Brown football team underwent a two-hour surgical procedure at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington that extracted marrow from his hip bones. He's required to rest for about two weeks post-surgery as his body regenerates the matter removed.

"I'm not going to say it wasn't [painful], but any pain or sacrifice I had to make is nothing compared to what [the match] has to go through," Shannon said.

Shannon registered with Be The Match as a freshman when the football team helped with the registration drive in the spring.

The Brown Bears are part of the "Get in the Game, Save a Life" campaign begun by Villanova football coach Andy Talley 10 years ago to involve student-athletes in the program, and while players aren't required to register, most do.

Shannon's parents, Michelle and Hugh, registered for the Be The Match program years ago, when Michelle was studying to become a nurse. So when Matt told his mom that he was signing up when he was a freshman at Brown, she was happy he was taking a small step to help others in need.

But when Matt received the final call just before finals week at Brown confirming he was a perfect match, and then told his mother he wanted to donate, she was proud of the boy she and her husband have raised.

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Brown University football player Matt Shannon offers a most precious gift - a bone-marrow donation

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