Author: Emma Thorpe '19
Published Date: 10/25/2018
F1RST Fall 2018
Carroll Students Literally Give Of Themselves
First-year college students anxiously await spring finals; it means one last push through their first year of rigorous academics, followed by long-awaited rest. It’s also a period when time is delicately distributed between long stretches of studying and final moments with new friends.
Finding yourself in the hospital during those dwindling days, then, would be disastrous to most students. Yet Kate Gentry gladly gave up a traditional end to her first year, choosing to undergo surgery during that last week instead.
Gentry has searched for ways to improve the lives, and especially health, of others since she was young, donating blood from the moment she turned 16. This led her to Carroll’s Physician Assistant program, choosing to double major in biology and Spanish as she worked toward a career in healthcare.
Gentry’s commitment to healing others made for a quick decision when she happened across the national marrow donor program, Be the Match.
“I first heard about the process of bone marrow donation from a friend of mine in high school, but hadn’t gotten involved with Be the Match until I saw that Carroll’s Love Your Melon student organization was hosting a swab drive for the organization.”
Be the Match pairs potential donors with bone marrow recipients. Volunteers join a registry where their information is accessible to health care professionals, who then decide if they’re an ideal fit for a patient in need. Be the Match says that about one in 300 people on the registry will be selected as the best genetic match for a patient, but only one in every 430 people on the registry will go on to donate.
Gentry’s procedure was scheduled during finals, a point when most students would have reconsidered. But she was unfazed, choosing to take part in a donation that epitomized her mission of simply helping others “feel better in any capacity.”
“When you think about the pain that a cancer patient undergoes or the hundreds of doctor’s visits they have to go to, it really puts it all into perspective. It was a small sacrifice to make that felt like an easy decision to make.”
That small sacrifice entailed a surgery in mid-May, an intimidating though minimally invasive procedure to remove her bone marrow. The surgical team used needles to pull liquid marrow out of the back of the bones of her pelvis during the hour and a half procedure.
Though the timing was difficult, Kate was grateful for the speed of her recovery and support of her professors, who allowed her to take some finals early. Soreness only slowed her for a few days, during which she prepared to return for her last exams.
“I went back to Carroll six days after my procedure to finish up my finals and then after about a week and a half I was pretty much back to feeling 100 percent, with just some occasional discomfort in my back. I was able to go on a backpacking trip with my dad just 11 days after the procedure.”
While Gentry can credit her quick recovery to the simplicity of the procedure and attentive care of her doctors, her own positive attitude undoubtedly contributed to the success of her experience. Her constant desire to draw attention back to those suffering through serious illnesses speaks to the humility with which she approached donating.
She wasn’t alone in donating bone marrow. Senior Drake Pusateri also recently donated bone marrow after finding information at the Love Your Melon campus event. The exercise science major and member of the Carroll football team underwent a similar procedure as Gentry’s roughly two months after joining the registry. Though they were years apart in their academic journeys, both students were glad to give the meaningful donation.
“Marrow donation really can be the difference between life or death for some patients and just imagining the hope that a family likely had when finding out they had a match is something that I don’t think will ever leave me,” said Gentry.
Learn More about Be The Match and Bone Marrow Donation