After blood stem cell donation, ‘an instant bond’

UTA student donates blood stem cells to Kentucky man in need of transplant

Friday, Mar 25, 2022 • Herb Booth : Contact

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Drew Kozman, a UTA student, donating stem cells from his blood.

As a peer academic leader at The University of Texas at Arlington, Andrew “Drew” Kozman always has been interested in the well-being of his fellow Mavericks. By donating his blood stem cells to a Kentucky man with a rare and fatal form of leukemia, Kozman showed his caring ways extend far beyond campus.

Earlier this year, Kozman took part in a surprise meeting with the recipient of his blood stem cells, traveling to Kentucky to meet 27-year-old Chris Lyons.

“It was amazing,” said Kozman, a UTA senior majoring in business management. “We had texted and been friends on Facebook, but we got to meet each other in person.”

Lyons said that first meeting was a little surreal.

“There was this instant bond,” Lyons said. “I was so grateful, and I felt this instant connection with Drew.”

Kozman and Lyons were brought together by the Be the Match registry, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, which helps patients in need of blood stem cell transplants find a matching unrelated donor.

Erica Sevilla, a Be the Match representative, said about 30% of patients find a match within their families; the remaining 70% rely on donors from outside that family circle.

Kozman said he was overjoyed about matching with a patient in need.

“I’ve been told that so many donors are never called upon,” Kozman said.

Sevilla said that about 12,000 U.S. patients are looking for unrelated matches. About 6,500 per year will find a matching donor. Younger donors have a greater chance of matching with a patient, she said.

“Be the Match needs more diversity on the registry to help the remaining thousands of patients find a matching donor,” Sevilla said. “The need is great.”

Visit the Be the Match website or text “BeLikeDrew” to 61474 to learn more about donating.