KSU student donates blood stem cells to stranger with leukemia

Many college students are focused on having fun and making good grades, not saving the lives of complete strangers. One Kennesaw State University student recently gave his own blood stem cells, to help save a patient in Washington, D.C. Now that student hopes to encourage others to become donors.

Adam Prather, 20, is sharing his story with fellow students at KSU. As a freshman, one day on campus, Adam randomly signed up for "Be the Match," a donor registry for patients with blood cancers. Two years later, he got a phone call.

"It came up out of nowhere and I'd not forgotten about it, but I didn't think anything would come out of it and so when it did, it was a complete shock and I was ready for the next step," Adam says.

Adam's DNA, from a cheek swab on campus, matched with a 65 year old man suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

"There are about four rounds of blood work you have to go through. They came back and said you're a potential match,  then it went into a good match,  then it was you're the best match we could ever get for this particular patient," explains Adam.

As a kid, Adam lost a cousin who received a bone marrow transplant. He says he didn't hesitate. He wanted to help this stranger.

"I've been on the other end of people needing it and I know how tiresome and longing it is to wait for a recipient to come, so for me to be able to give someone the chance at life again… I have to be able to take it," Adam shares.

Last month, Adam flew to Washington, D.C. For the 6.5 hour procedure, collecting his blood stem cells.

"I was hooked up to two needles, two IV's, one in each arm. They take it out of one arm, it goes through the machine and then they put the blood back in once they get what they need out of your blood," explains Adam.

"Be the Match" says every 3 to 4 minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. 70 percent of patients have to rely on strangers, donors from a registry.

"I had people ask me once I got back, in youth group and everything else, "Would you do it again?" And absolutely, if they called tomorrow and said, you're a match with somebody else, I would do it again, as soon as I could, I'd do it again," Adam adds.

Now Adam hopes to keep sharing his positive experience, and get more people signed up on the registry. "I've seen the second chance at life that it gives people, to have that, you have to have people willing to donate," he says.

Adam is working with "Be the Match" and KSU to get a donor drive on campus in the fall. "Be the Match" covered all his family's expenses for the trip to D.C. for his donation. He said his professors were very supportive and let him make up work while he was away. In the future, he's hoping to be able communicate with the 65 year old man he helped.