SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 29, 2013

Our view: Cheers for a young man's selfless gift


The Salem News

---- — Kudos to a young man from Plaistow, N.H., who values helping others over his own interests.

Cameron Lyle, a track-and-field athlete at the University of New Hampshire, joined many of his college peers a few years ago in signing up for a national bone marrow registry. Using genetic information from swabs of the participants’ mouths, the registry seeks to match potential donors with those needing bone marrow transplants as treatment for certain forms of cancer.

The odds are long — a participant has only a 1-in-5-million chance of being a match for someone not a member of his or her own family. So Lyle didn’t think much of his chances of being a donor.

A few months ago, he got a call from the National Marrow Donor Program that he was a potential match for a 28-year-old man who is suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Further testing determined that Lyle was a perfect match for the patient.

The only catch: Donating would mean Lyle would have to miss the rest of the track season, including the America East Championships, where he was hoping to compete in the shot put. As a senior, these would be the last competitions of his career.

Lyle told reporter Alex Lippa of our sister paper The Eagle-Tribune that the decision was easy.

“He has six months to live, and I have the possibility to buy him a couple more years,” Lyle said.

Lyle’s donor surgery was scheduled for last week at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He won’t be able to lift more than 20 pounds over his head for a few weeks.

Lyle’s mother, Christine Sciacca, told Lippa she’s proud of her son.

“I don’t know of many 21-year-olds who would give up their last year of track to help another human,” she said.

Lyle was uncertain how his coach would react to the news.

“I felt like I was walking into the principal’s office and I had done something wrong,” Lyle said.

His worries were misplaced. Coach Jim Boulanger was on board with the plan.

“I told him, you either do 12 throws at the conference championships, or you give another man a few more years,” Boulanger said. “It was easy for me.”

Lyle’s selflessness and commitment to helping others is commendable. It comes at a time of transition for the young man about to finish college. It’s difficult to pass on one final shot at athletic glory. But it is a sign of Lyle’s maturity that he knows some things are more important.

Lyle does not know the identity of the person who will receive his gift. The rules of bone marrow donation require that the participants remain unknown to each other for a year. After that time, they will each have the opportunity to sign consent forms that would allow their identities to be revealed.

Lyle said he would like to meet the recipient.

“I’d love to meet him some day,” Lyle said. “He’s not that much older than myself. I just can’t imagine what he’s going through.”

We hope they meet, too, and find each other in good health.