(NEW YORK) — Cameron Lyle, a Division I college athlete in New Hampshire, has decided to shorten his athletic career for a chance to save a life.
The University of New Hampshire senior will donate bone marrow Wednesday, a decision that abruptly ends his collegiate athletic career, but one that he calls a “no brainer.”
Lyle, 21, had his mouth swabbed to join a bone marrow registry two years ago in the cafeteria at school. He didn’t think any more of it until a few months ago when he got a phone call that he might be a match. He took more tests and discovered a month later that he was a perfect match.
“When they first told me, I was like, ‘OK, cool. I’m definitely going to do it,'” Lyle said. “After that I kind of went to tell my coach and then I realized slowly that my season was over.”
Lyle’s main events are the shot put and the hammer throw.
“It’s just a sport,” he said. “Just because it’s Division I college level doesn’t make it any more important. Life is a lot more important than that, so it was pretty easy.”
Lyle competed in his last competition Saturday and said it was “kind of emotional.” His teammates rallied around him to cheer him on.
The man who needs his help is a 28-year-old suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Lyle was told that the man only has six months to live without the transplant.
Lyle of Plaistow, N.H., said he had been told there was a one in five million chance for a non-family match.
“It was kind of a no-brainer for a decent human,” Lyle said. “I couldn’t imagine just waiting. He could have been waiting for years for a match. I’d hope that someone would donate to me if I needed it.”
Lyle will make the bone marrow donation Wednesday morning at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital. A needle will be used to withdraw liquid bone marrow from his pelvic bone. After the surgery, he will not be allowed to lift more than 20 pounds over his head, which rules out all his athletic events.
Lyle and the man have to remain anonymous to each other for at least a year, but can then sign consent forms to release their identities if they want.
“I really want to meet him,” Lyle said, “and I hope he wants to meet me.”
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