by Ben Sheffler
During one of several WEAR-TV and “Be the Match” Foundation Bone Marrow Registry drives earlier this year, Pensacola State College student Aaron Heintzelman signed up. Last week, he followed through on his commitment with a donation to someone with leukemia.
Heintzelman hadn’t been thinking about getting on the registry, but the drive held at PSC in the spring changed that.
“I always donate blood and platelets, so I figured I’d kick it up a step and help somebody else out,” he said.
All Heintzelman knows about whom he donated to is the person’s age and type of leukemia, but that doesn’t interfere with how he feels about saving someone’s life.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “It’s just the small things like a bone marrow donation that can really help somebody.”
On a registry where some people never get the call, Heintzelman was notified he was a partial match just a few months after he registered.
“At first I was kind of shocked at how fast I got picked,” he said. “After they told me that I was the sure match, I had about less than a week to make my decision.”
“I had a lot of thinking to do, but you know, in the end I knew I was going to go through with it,” he said.
Along with the initial shock, there were other feelings Heintzelman had to deal with.
“It was exciting, kind of scary when you know what the procedure’s going to be like, but it’s nothing like people work it up to be,” he said. “The pain wasn’t near like what I thought it was going to be.”
Heintzelman said his lower back and hip area will remain sore for about another week, a result of the approximately one-hour procedure to extract marrow from his hip bones, but he said the procedure wasn’t a big deal and he encourages others to get on the registry.
Other than being a 20 year old student at PSC working on his general AA, Heintzelman’s activities include work and golf, but he hasn’t been able to do either.
“After another week or so, I can go back to doing everything I want to do,” he said.
Heintzelman plans to attend the University of West Florida to earn a degree in anthropology and pursue his goal of becoming an underwater archeologist.
Heintzelman would like to meet the person who received his bone marrow, saying, “As long as he’s up for it, I’m up for it.”
“After a certain amount of time, we can start anonymous contact with each other,” he said. “And then after that, if we decide we want to meet each other, we can.”
When asked if he would donate again, without hesitation Heintzelman simply said, “Yeah.”
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