SAN DIEGO — When Tommy Edwards '14 was the star quarterback for the Occidental football team four years ago, he was anything but a role player.
But after getting a call out of the blue form the Be the Match Campaign, the EMT working in the Seattle area got an opportunity to be the ultimate role player in someone's life.
Edwards, an All-SCIAC selection in 2013 who threw for more than 2,900 yards during his junior season in Eagle Rock, learned he was a possible match for a bone marrow transplant for a 23-year-old international patient with leukemia. He got the chance to be a bone marrow donor after participating in the Be the Match Campaign at Occidental, an annual campaign that football teams across the country participate in.
"This past March of 2017, I got a call from Be the Match, and they said I was a potential match for a young man with leukemia," Edwards said, admitting he had almost forgotten about the swab he'd taken four years earlier. "I remember being in the quad at lunch with our jersey's on signing people up. It takes 10 minutes, no big deal and you're in the registry, but something like only 1 in 500 will be a bone marrow donor. I never really thought much of it and kind of moved on."
Edwards, always a team player, stepped up and flew down to San Diego to meet the medical staff that would be performing the procedure.
"They asked if I wanted to move forward and of course I said yes," Edwards said. "They did more blood tests, and flew me down to Scripps hospital in San Diego."
Everything checked out, and two weeks later he was back in La Jolla where he had a successful two-hour outpatient Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Procedure.
"Be the Match paid for air fare, hotel, food and everything," Edwards said. "They truly made you feel special during the process."
What happens next, Edwards may never know or at least won't know for a period of time. Due to privacy reasons, both the donor and the patient are anonymous until one year following the procedure at which time the parties can agree to release their names and potentially talk or meet, a moment Edwards said would be incredible.
"That would be a special moment," Edwards said. "I really felt like I was a small role player in the entire thing. Oxy Head Coach Doug Semones putting it on is a major factor. Without him I wouldn't even know about it. All doctors and nurses at Scripps were awesome and Be the Match was truly a first class organization."
Edwards, who was a history major originally from Sherman Oaks, plans to pursue a career in firefighting. After college he coached football in Italy and traveled the world before landing in the Pacific Northwest.Follow Oxy Athletics on Twitter Sign Up for Newsletters Watch on Youtube Follow us on Instagram