Wilmington man donates bone marrow to save a life

Jul 13, 2012

Earlier this year, a Wilmington, North Carolina man donated bone marrow to save the life of a person he’d never met.  His recipient was one of the lucky ones.

WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports that every year, thousands of people with life-threatening illnesses – such as leukemia -- wait and hope for a donor that’s a match. 

“About 3 years ago they had a bone marrow registration at the church.  And a friend of mine asked me to come out.” 

After his wife passed away from pancreatic cancer, David Gaskill says he was primed to find a way to combat the helplessness he felt watching his wife suffer.  And donating bone marrow, says Gaskill, was a way he could make a difference – even if the recipient was a total stranger.   

“It doesn’t matter.  I saved a life.  Hopefully, he will take the gift that I gave him and do something good.”

Gaskill says giving bone marrow is one of the most meaningful things he’s done – and, perhaps ironically, one of the activities requiring the least of him. 

“You don’t have to be a policeman, a fireman, or a doctor to do it.  Only thing you have to do is register.” 

To join the registry, Gaskill had the inside of his cheek swabbed and filled out some paperwork.  It was two years before the call came to donate.  But when it did, he was ready. 

“No, I didn’t have any second thoughts.  I knew what I wanted to do.  It was something that I needed to do.” 

Be the Match, a national donor marrow program, is holding a community bone marrow drive at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, from 9 AM to 2:30 PM on Tuesday, July 17th at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in the Betty H. Cameron Women's and Children's Hospital.  Potential donors should be between 18 and 60.