By Scott Halasz
CEDARVILLE — It was more than 10 years ago and Dr. Jeffrey Haymond probably hadn’t thought much of it.
But while serving in the Air Force, the current dean of business administration at Cedarville University joined the bone marrow national registry at the urging of a lieutenant in the squadron in which he served. The lieutenant, now Maj. Kate Cantu, donated and helped save someone’s life and Haymond thought it would be a good idea to become a potential donor.
He was swabbed during a base-wide event and that was that. Out of sight, out of mind.
“I hadn’t heard anything since 2004 or 2005 when they did this,” Haymond said.
Last month a call finally came and Haymond was told he was THE match. He was asked if he was still willing to donate and for Haymond the answer came easily.
“When you find out that you’re the unique match (you say yes),” he said. “At this point, I am the best hope that this young lady has. You know immediately this is someone’s life or death. This is a duty. You’re going to answer the call. It’s a gift to know in my mind that this is something you have to do.”
Today Haymond is in Washington, D.C., prepping for a peripheral blood stem cells donation at Georgetown University. His recipient is a 15-year-old girl from Australia who is battling Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Haymond will receive injections of filgrastim, a medication which increases the number of blood-forming blood cells in the blood stream. After five days, blood is removed through a needle in one arm, passed through a machine that extracts the blood-forming cells, while the remaining blood is returned to Haymond through the other arm.
The non-surgical procedure is less invasive than a traditional bone marrow donation, which involves placing a needle into the pelvic bone. Haymond’s recovery is about a week, during which he will feel like he has the flu, minus the annoying cough.
It’s a minor interruption in his daily life that Haymond is willing to accept. The whole process comes at no expense to Haymond and Cedarville has been gracious with allowing Haymond to be gone. One of his classes will be covered by another professor while his second class worked ahead and will have some time off.
“I’m an economist,” he said. “There is no trade off on a life for feeling like you have the flu for a week.”
Once harvested, the cells will be expedited to Australia the middle of next week. In the meantime, the recipient is undergoing 10 days of chemotherapy that Haymond says will kill her if the cell transplant doesn’t work. Haymond was not given a percent chance that the procedure will be successful.
“It’s high enough that this is a worthwhile effort, but it is not a guarantee,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons they try to keep it anonymous.”
Haymond will receive an update about a month after the transplant as to its success. After a year, if both parties agree, they can meet.
In the meantime, Haymond is hoping the power of prayer will help his selfless act work.
“I can’t imagine the desperation of her mother and father,” Haymond said. “My prayer life has been really reflected around her and her family. It’s got to be something external. Maybe it’s a spiritual thing for them. That’s been my prayer.”