A Match Made in Heaven
Harding University is partnering with Earl Young’s Team to host the sixth annual bone marrow drive for DKMS, an international registry. Sophia Tilley, a fourth-year student in Harding’s College of Pharmacy, is leading three drives throughout the month of October, one of which will be on campus. College of Pharmacy students as well as the track and field team are assisting her at the drive that will be hosted on Oct. 17 at 9:30 a.m. in C.L. Kay Plaza, in front of the Benson Auditorium..
As a cancer survivor, Tilley is eager to share her story and encourage students to join the registry.
“I had a bone marrow transplant in 2011, so when I heard that Harding puts on registry drives, I just wanted to hop in and help however I could,” Tilley said. “I want to talk about how God has shaped my story and brought me to where I am today, to touch people and give them hope.”
In 2008, while she was in the fifth grade, Tilley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left leg. She underwent a year of chemotherapy and surgeries, and, after relapsing in her right lung, had a second round of treatment. Before her ninth grade year, Tilley relapsed a second time and was diagnosed with secondary acute myeloid leukemia and given only a year to live unless a bone marrow match was found.
On Dec. 15, 2011, Tilley received a stem cell transplant from a bone marrow donor, and she has been in remission for ten years. Since then, she has graduated high school and earned her undergraduate degree in biomedical biology from Arkansas Tech University. In her final year of pharmacy school, Tilley’s goal is to make an impact in childhood cancer treatment.
Tilley is working in conjunction with Earl Young, Olympic medalist and founder of Earl Young’s Team. Young was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012 and given only three months to live. Halfway around the world, a donor match was found in Germany and Young received a live-saving stem cell transplant. He acknowledges that his two most formative times — his battle with leukemia and his competition in the Olympics — fueled the creation of Earl Young’s Team. Their goal is to defeat blood cancer through donor awareness.
“Over the past five years, we have swabbed over 19,000 people, and 82 people have found a match and been given a chance at further life,” said Young. “Let me tell you, it’s the greatest time of my life because of what we’re doing. We’re saving lives, and we ask you to join us to help us with this effort.”
Through a collaborative effort, the Harding community is eager to join the cause of raising donor awareness. Over the past five years 12 students have helped save lives through blood marrow donations.
“In my eyes, even just saving one life is worth it. By saving one person’s life, you’re going to impact so many people,” Tilley said.
Through simply swabbing and joining the registry, you may become someone’s match made in heaven.