Be the Match: In Chris Bradley's memory, a look at the lifesaving gift within all of us


Kathryn Poe was 15 when her body began turning on her.

"One day I would wake up and my hands were swollen and I suddenly couldn't open doors or I couldn't go up steps. And then the next day I would get a rash all over my body, and it wouldn't go away for six months," she said.

Over the next few years, she would be diagnosed with multiple autoimmune disorders.

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"It's difficult to push yourself to get up in the morning when your entire body is telling you, you're sick, you need to lay in bed, you're in pain. But at the same time you want to live your life. I was an 18-year-old girl that just wanted to go to college."

In February, doctors at Nationwide Children's Hospital proposed a bone marrow transplant.

"It was either I wait for my disease to come back again and take a 50 percent mortality rate, or I get a bone marrow transplant and also take a 50 percent mortality rate, but on the other side of a cure. And so for me, the answer was fairly obvious."

Within 11 days of her transplant, her body began rebooting itself. The difference has been dramatic.

"It kind of feels like my body died, and then it came back, and it's regenerated," she said. "I get to live the rest of my life now. Like before the bone marrow transplant, I did not think I was going to live into my mid 20s. I really didn't. And now I get to live the rest of my life. It's really given me my life back."

Sean Patterson has been on the other end of this life-changing gift.

He was swabbed into the bone marrow registry at an office drive for a co-worker in 2012.

"You do a cotton swab in each corner of your mouth place it in an envelope, mail it back to be the match, and you wait," he said.

In 2014, he got the phone call: "It was, 'you are the best possible match for an 8-year-old little girl.' For me it was a no-brainer, because my son had just turned 7, and I always look at it like, how could I go home and tell him I said no? I think I was at the hospital maybe eight hours. It was truly something simple."

He didn't know the girl, or even where she was, but says he didn't have to, to want to help.

"Trying to wrap my head around what her family was going through in this whole process, and going home and being able to see my was very emotional. Understanding that this is an ugly disease, and doing anything I can to help, is powerful."

"We always say we want to change the world," said Kathryn. "And we look at these massive issues. But the reality is, you can save one person and make a positive impact on one person's life, you're saving everything. You've saved the world by saving them. You've saved their entire universe."

"As an able-bodied person I plead with people to go out and do this," said Sean. "It's a simple process to get on the registry. And if you are lucky enough to get that call, do it."

"That is literally all I want for Christmas - is for you to swab into the bone marrow registry," said Kathryn. "Because you're saving someone. And you don't know what it does. You don't know the impact you're going to have."

For information on how to become a donor: