CMU student donating blood stem cells to save man’s life

University to host bone marrow drive following procedure
Jennifer Eskridge

Central Michigan University junior Jennifer Eskridge of Lapeer will undergo a peripheral blood stem cell donation procedure Wednesday, March 5, to help save a 47-year-old man’s life. He’s a man she knows nothing about.  

Eskridge’s inspiration comes from her mother, a cancer survivor, and former church member, Thomas Daley, who lost his life in February 2011 during a tree trimming accident. After his death, their church, Immaculate Conception, started an annual bone marrow drive in his honor.

“Watching my mother battle cancer was hard for me so I can only imagine how hard it is on this man’s family,” Eskridge said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but I just want to see him and know that he’s OK.”

According to Be The Match, a global leader in bone marrow transplantation, there are 12,000 patients annually whose only hope for a cure is a transplant from someone outside their family.

Donating blood stem cells is a four- to six-hour, nonsurgical procedure, which increases the blood-forming cells in the donor’s blood stream. The blood cells are extracted from the donor and deposited into the bone marrow of the patient.

Once Eskridge found she was a potential match in January, she devoted herself to a full-body cleanse, eliminating processed foods from her diet.

“There’s always that slim chance that it won’t work, so I did everything in my power to make sure my body and blood were in prime condition,” Eskridge said. “My body isn’t mine right now — it belongs to someone else.”

Following Eskridge’s procedure, Grand Rapids Mich. Blood will host a bone marrow drive Monday, April 14, from 1 to 5 p.m. at CMU’s Student Activity Center and the Health Professions Building. Registering is a simple process consisting of taking DNA samples by swabbing the inside of the cheek. The blood center will pay the $100 registration fee to help increase the number of registered adults under the age of 44, particularly the African-American and Asian populations, which combined account for 14 percent of all registered donors.

“Mount Pleasant may not be the most diverse place compared to larger cities, but combined with CMU’s student population they have the potential to make a huge impact,” Eskridge said.

Stem cell program manager and CMU alumna, Barbara Hile, ’77, will oversee Eskridge’s collection process. After mentioning the upcoming bone marrow drive at CMU, during her preprocedure assessment, Eskridge was more than willing to help market the event and get others involved.

“It’s nice to see how CMU continues to grow in the aspect of giving back,” Hile said. “We’ve had small drives on campus before, but we’re hoping that through Jennifer’s story this will be the largest one yet.”