Updated 10/04/2012 12:54 PM
College student answers growing need for bone marrow transplants
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DURHAM -- With lives on the line, the need for bone marrow donations across the country is greater than ever.
The National Marrow Donor Program said just five out of 10 patients will receive the transplant they need survive.
Elon University student Donovan Rainey recently passed the exam of a lifetime. He's a donor match for a patient in need of a bone marrow transplant.
"To be able to give life and to be able to try to sustain someone else's is just the ultimate gift," said Rainey.
Giving that gift is easier than before.
Duke University Medical Center said many are under the false impression that the only way to donate is by surgerically removing bone marrow from the hip.
Instead, donors can get blood removed through a machine. The stem cells found in donors blood will be used to create a new immune system for recipients.
"They don't need general anesthesia, they don't have to go to the operating room and I think there is less discomfort," said Susan Drago, a nurse at Duke's Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinic and Treatment Facility.
Rainey said the temporary discomfort is worth it because the life on the line was his dad's.
"You will never realize how much you children care for you for you until they do something like this," said bone marrow recipient Frederick Rainey.
If the transplant goes smoothly, stem cells from Donovan will cure his father, who's battling a life-threatening blood cell disorder.
"He's probably the strongest man I ever know and so to see him in pain, it really hits me, it really hits me kind of hard," said Donovan.
Discovering Donovan can restore Frederick's health is a miracle for the family who places a strong value on faith.
"That was part of Donovan's purpose to be born. To give his father another chance at life," said Donovan's mother, Teres Rainey.
While Donovan knew his match, he'd donate again for a stranger.
"It's well worth it because you're trying to help someone else out," he said.
His son's willingness to step up gives Frederick every reason to fight for his life, he said.
"In the end of this process that I am going to be a better person for it. My son is going to be a better man," said Frederick.
The National Marrow Donor Program said there's an especially high need for minority donors. To find out how you can become a match and save someone's life, click here