A New Outlook on Life OC Students and Alumni Take Opportunities to Save Lives

Mandolin Skipworth (19)

OC has an extensive history of students, employees and alumni donating organs or blood to help those in need. 

This year, the student health organization Eagles Health Initiative partnered with Delete Blood Cancer to help save even more lives. 

DBC is a nonprofit organization that works with friends and communities to recruit bone marrow donors.

EHI set up a system where students could be swabbed and potentially connect with people who need blood cell or bone marrow transplants. 

More than 350 OC students have registered to be a donor. This year, the system matched Josh Bilello (17) and Sean Bolin (16), recent OC alumni, to patients.

Bolin reflected on his experience registering at OC.

“I remember listening to Earl Young speak in Chapel about his personal story with bone marrow donation,” Bolin said. “After he spoke, I was inspired to get my cheek swabbed. I was like, ‘Why not? I might be able to help a lot of people.’”

After a person’s cheek is swabbed, his or her DNA is put into a system, and he or she is emailed if there is a match. The person then is walked through the steps of donating blood cells or bone marrow.

Bolin had forgotten he had registered, but he was honored to donate blood cells.

“After I was swabbed, I kind of forgot about it. It was in the back of my mind,” he said. “I got the initial email saying I was matched, and I was initially overwhelmed. It’s a new, good feeling. You’ve been chosen to save someone’s life. It’s an emotional, powerful situation.”

Students established EHI in 2015 to make a difference in the OC community. Whitney Hall, EHI’s president and a junior biology major, reflected on the motivation for starting EHI.

“Eagles Health Initiative is an organization that works to promote and educate people on different aspects of health,” Hall said. “This includes their spiritual, physical and mental health. We decided to work on Delete Blood Cancer so people have the opportunity to impact others and potentially save their lives.”

These stories of OC students donating bone marrow follow on the heels of recent organ donations by other Eagles. 

In the spring, Professor of Education Dr. Darin Martin donated a kidney to a 14-year-old stranger. His donation allowed Allison Kuc to get off of dialysis and have a hopeful future. 

OC board member Shannon Wilburn donated a kidney to Walt Erwin, a member of Park Plaza Church of Christ’s branch campus in Jenks, a Tulsa suburb. 

Just a few years ago, Professor of Electrical Engineering Joe Watson received a kidney from Kara Johnson, the wife of OC mathematics professor Craig Johnson. 

Giving the gift of life, it seems, is just part of the spirit of the OC community.

Spring 2018

View more stories from the Spring 2018 issue of Vision magazine.