Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon considers the story of Cameron Lyle, a varsity athlete at the University of New Hampshire. Mr. Lyle forfeited his final season on the track team in order to donate his bone marrow to a 28-year-old cancer victim he's never even met.
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
This week as wounded survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing continue their battles to recover, another man entered Massachusetts General Hospital to give of himself. Cameron Lyle is donating bone marrow to someone that he doesn't know, someone in fact he may never meet. He's 21 years old, a business management senior at the University of New Hampshire and a shot putter on the track and field team. When Mr. Lyle was a sophomore, he registered for the National Marrow Donor Program. The process is painless, swift and simple. Medical technicians swabbed his cheek. They told Cameron Lyle that his chance of being typed as a donor for someone who wasn't a family member was one in four or five million. I forgot I was in the registry, he told the Union Leader newspaper. But about a month ago, the program called to tell Cameron Lyle that his marrow had been matched with a 28-year-old man who's suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They asked Mr. Lyle to donate his bone marrow immediately. Donating marrow is not just a swab inside the mouth. A patient is anesthetized and a large needle is inserted into a bone - typically the pelvis - to draw out the marrow. Donors are told not to lift more than 20 pounds for a month. Doctors said Cameron Lyle may be too depleted to raise a bowl above his head, much less throw the discus, the hammer or the shot put. Being a bone marrow donor would mean ending his college athletic career right now.
I did think about what I was giving up, Mr. Lyle said this week, but the kid has six months to live and I have the possibility to buy him a couple more years. He's my hero, Cameron Lyle's mother said of her son, I couldn't be more proud of him and how he's been so humble about it. Cameron Lyle said he'd been a little apprehensive about telling his track coach that he wouldn't be able to make his team's final championship meet. But Coach Jim Boulanger told the Eagle Tribune, I told him you either do 12 throws at the conference championships or you give another man a few more years. It was easy for me.
In some ways, many of the truly important decisions in life are clear, if not exactly easy. You don't have to figure the odds or throw out the list of pros and cons so much as open your heart and listen. Cameron Lyle will be at that last meet of the year, the American East Conference Championships on May 4th and 5th. He'll be a spectator, not a competitor, but I bet he still gets a round of applause.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEROES")
DAVID BOWIE: (Singing) We can be heroes just for one day. I, I will be king, and you...
SIMON: David Bowie. You're listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.