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CMU senior joins bone marrow registry and saves a life

Unexpected visit to registry for Derrick Nash leads to match

Contact: Heather Smith

​​​​It was a chilly fall day in November 2014 when Central Michigan University senior Michael Preston’s friend asked him for a ride to campus. Without thinking twice, he quickly agreed. That ride became an opportunity for Preston to save a life.

The Mason native had driven his friend to a Michigan Blood bone marrow drive being held on campus in hopes of finding a match for the late CMU student and football player, Derrick Nash. Preston had no intention of putting himself into the registry, but once he arrived he was unable to say no.

“There are thousands of people not just nationwide, but worldwide in need of bone marrow who have no other options,” Preston said.

After entering the registry, it can often take years before finding a potential match.

For Preston, it took less than six months.

Preston had almost forgotten he had registered, until he received a call last May.

“I answered the phone, and the woman on the other line said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a chance to save someone’s life,’” he said. “In the moment, how do you say no to that?”

Suddenly Preston found himself with an opportunity he says not everyone is given.

“It’s really exciting when you think about getting to save someone’s life,” he said. “I immediately thought about my own family. What if someone I knew was in a situation where the only chance they had to be saved came from someone else? The fact that I can be that someone for a person who really needs it is incredible.”

When the day of the procedure finally arrived in September, Preston packed into a car with some of his best friends and drove to Grand Rapids in hopes of saving the life of a 25-year-old woman with leukemia. That was all the information he was given.

Giving bone marrow takes approximately four to eight hours, and Preston said he felt some nervousness going into it.

“I felt kind of uneasy about sitting with needles in my arms for half of the day, but I would definitely recommend for everyone to do it,” he said. “Nothing compares to knowing that you saved a life.”

About a year after the procedure is finished, donors are given the option to learn the identity and even meet the individual who received their bone marrow. In the future, Preston hopes to get to know the woman whose life he saved.

“It’s rewarding knowing that you did something that could not have been done without you,” he said.

After giving bone marrow, Preston said donors are temporarily unavailable on the registry for two years. Once he is eligible, Preston plans to donate again.

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