By Leighah Beausoleil
Patrick Languzzi, ’89, hosted a Stem Cell Drive over a period of four dates at Framingham State.
A Stem Cell Drive is aimed at collecting cells of potential donors through a cheek swab. If these cells end up being a match for someone who needs a bone marrow transplant, then the system will be able to recognize it and arrangements can be made if the match agrees to donate.
“We're trying to raise awareness and try to get people to register to be a stem cell donor,” Languzzi said.
“I am a recipient of a stem cell transplant that saved my life,” he said. “I had leukemia, and they didn't give me much chance of survival, and the only chance I really had was to have a stem cell transplant, which I received. I had a donor match from London - across seas.”
Languzzi explained there is a “slim” chance that a person doing the cheek swap will get called as a match, but “it's an opportunity to actually save someone's life.”
He said they received over 100 submissions, which was their goal.
Though the drive at FSU is now over, he said people can still donate by signing up on the “Pay it Back With Patrick” page of the We Delete Blood Cancer website - dkms.org.
He said it only takes a couple of minutes to register and then a cheek swab kit will be sent to the potential donor’s house to be mailed back.
“There's some misconceptions as to what a stem cell transplant is and it's a simple cheek swab to be registered. And then if you’re ever a match for somebody, it's just a blood draw,” Languzzi said. “Like if you were going to give blood at the Red Cross - it's painless, it doesn't cost anything, and you can save someone's life. It's that simple.”
Tom Kelley, athletic director, said Languzzi was a former player on the FSU football team.
“It's something that's important,” Kelley said of the Stem Cell Drive. “We're not only your Athletic Department - we like to do civil community service.
“Our students have really rallied behind this,” he said. “A former athlete was in need and he benefited from this program. So I thought it was very important that we reach out and do what little we can to help.”