Annabelle Kopcan, a senior who is majoring in speech language pathology, went way out of her comfort zone to save the life of a stranger.
Kopcan donated her stem cells through the Gift of Life Marrow Registry to a man in Florida who was battling a type of blood cancer. Kopcan will be the first to admit that she doesn't really care for needles.
"I really don't like needles, in fact, they scare me," she said.
Donating stem cells was far from her mind when Kopcan and friends attended Lakerthon in February 2020. An annual event, Lakerthon promotes children's health issues through presentations; Kopcan was impressed by the Gift of Life presentation and completed a quick cheek swab to add to the registry. She was familiar with the process.
"I have a friend whose younger brother is now two years cancer-free because of a stem cell transplant he had," she said.
Last year, Kopcan received a call from Gift of Life that her swab was a potential match for a man in his 70s who lives in Florida and has myelodysplastic disorder, a type of blood cancer that can progress to become leukemia.
"I was kind of shocked to get a call but thought, 'I'm not going to back out now,'" she said.