It’s a no-brainer for Heather Parman, UTC alumna and Mocs volleyball player: she wants UTC to Get In The Game and become part of Be The Match Registry, the cell registry that pairs potential donors with patients suffering from blood cancers.
She thinks people who become potential donors are “lifesavers” and “heroes” and that they are “selfless.” She’s got firsthand knowledge of one of those donors, because Heather’s dad Eddie Parman was the recipient of stem cells from Josh Gilreath.
Mr. Parman was diagnosed in 2011 with an aggressive form of bone cancer. Seven years after Josh Gilreath of Bowling Green, Kentucky, signed on as a potential donor, he matched the need for Mr. Parman. After the transfusion in 2012, Mr. Parman responded positively, but complications set in and he died.
Don’t be afraid to sign up
Heather believes there is a gigantic misconception among college students about this lifesaving process. On Tuesday, February 25 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. or Wednesday, February 26th from 9 a.m. – 6 pm in the Tennessee Room of the UTC University Center, potential donors can take the first step.
Basic paperwork must be completed and then a DNA sample is taken with a cheek swab to complete the submission.
“Students think that when they are asked to donate stem cells, someone will do surgery on them and that’s not true,” Heather explained. “If a match is found, the donor gives a sort of advanced blood transfusion. There may be a little nausea and a little pain, but it is very little discomfort compared to what the patient is going through. For the patient, there’s chemotherapy and the emotional pain of dealing with the disease.”
Heather said when a match is found and a donor decides to give life-saving stem cells, all expenses are taken care of including lodging and food, if the donor must travel. The donor’s privacy is also protected. It was unusual for the Parman family to request a meeting with the man who donated stem cells to Mr. Parman. In their case, the donor agreed to meet the family and Heather was glad Josh Gilreath did.
“It is important for students to get Get In The Game if they are healthy. It feels good to help someone else. You may not be called to actually donate for years, but it’s something you can be proud of doing for the rest of your life.
“I had so much support from the volleyball team, my coaches, and random people on campus who knew about my dad’s situation when I was a student. I want to thank all of them for their words of encouragement,” Heather said.
Heather, a GPS graduate, went on to graduate from UTC magna cum laude in May 2013. She is the “Market Master” for the Chattanooga Market, a certified personal trainer, and she coaches volleyball. And in case you’re wondering, she got in the game and her name is part of the Be The Match Registry.
Members of the UTC Volleyball Team, Mocs Football, and Fraternity and Sorority Life at UTC have given their time to recruit fellow students to Get In the Game and to give blood. Additional partners include UTC Student Development and UTC Student Health Services.
Donation requirements to Get In The Game and Save a Life
- Be between the ages of 18 and 44
- Be willing to donate to any patient in need
- Meet the health guidelines. Learn more here.
While you are signing up to Get In The Game, donate a pint of blood so that this can be UTC’s most successful Bloodanooga blood drive ever for Blood Assurance.
If you have any questions, please call Blood Assurance at (423) 756-0966.A representative will discuss donation requirements and health-related questions.