Being the Match

Pharmacy student donates bone marrow to cancer patient

By Erin Garrett

For Adam Marshall, donating to a complete stranger came down to simply doing what’s right.


harmacy students at Ole Miss strive to impact the health of patients, but that goal took a new twist for Adam Marshall after learning his bone marrow was a match for a 12-year-old with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“Not a lot of people can say they donated bone marrow,” said Marshall. “I knew that it was going to help somebody, and everyone I talked to was really supportive.”

Along with some 80 other pharmacy students at Ole Miss, Marshall, a Memphis native enrolled in the second year of the professional pharmacy program, participated in “Be The Match,” a national program that registers potential bone marrow donors with patients in need. Marshall was notified in June that he was the first match from the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy.

“We were all excited when we heard the news that one of our students was a match,” said Chelsea Bennett, assistant dean for student services. “Adam demonstrated great selflessness by donating, and we’re proud of him. I hope that because of Adam’s example, even more students sign up for the registry.”

Marshall drove to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson for the procedure.

“I was there for two days during the surgery,” he said. “It was painful, but the pain was manageable.”

Dr. Carolyn Bigelow, a hematologist at UMMC, was a member of the team of physicians that harvested Marshall’s bone marrow.

“Adam performed a very selfless act to undergo a bone marrow harvest procedure for someone he does not even know,” Bigelow said. “I am continually amazed at the generosity of people like Adam who are willing to give someone a second chance at life by providing a lifesaving organ like bone marrow.”

For Marshall, donating to a complete stranger came down to simply doing what’s right.

“Someone asked me if I had a great story for why I donated, and I don’t,” he said. “I just knew it was something I needed to do.”

U.S. law requires that donors and recipients remain anonymous for a year, but Marshall hopes to one day meet the child who received his bone marrow.

“It would be great to be able to talk to my recipient and see how he or she is doing,” he said.

Marshall encourages others to participate in the match program or other lifesaving programs.

“Whether it’s donating blood or bone marrow, anything will help,” he said. “You could have an opportunity to save a life.”

For more information on the national marrow donor program, visit To register as a donor in Mississippi, call the Mississippi Marrow Donor Program at 601-984-5617.

The University of Mississippi Office of Admissions, 145 Martindale, University, MS 38677

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