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Blood Donors Help Save Lives
Jared Sylvester had always enjoyed playing sports, and he lived a very active lifestyle. Heading into his junior year of college at Miami University, he played on the club lacrosse team. He started experiencing knee pain during the summer but brushed it off. A few months passed, and the pain became unbearable. Jared’s family contacted their good friend, Dr. Mike, for a consultation over the weekend.
Concerned with the amount of swelling in the area, Dr. Mike ordered an MRI. He invited Jared and his family to his home the following week, and the Sylvesters had an uneasy feeling that something was seriously wrong.
Dr. Mike was the one to share the unfortunate news with Jared and his loved ones. He was 99 percent sure that it was Osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer most commonly found in children and young adults. During this difficult time, Jared’s tight-knit family formed an even stronger bond, which was a blessing as they faced the challenges that filled the following months.
Dr. Mike connected Jared with a surgeon, Dr. Joel Mayerson, who confirmed the diagnosis. One of the hardest moments for Jared came when the surgeon started discussing options for surgery and prosthetic devices. Regardless of his decision, Jared would never be able to run again. Jared’s mother, Janeen, described this moment as almost harder for her son than when he first heard the words “yes, it’s cancer.”
For more than a year, Jared traveled back and forth between home and the hospital. He received several blood transfusions,which were crucial throughouthischemotherapy treatments and especially before and after his limb salvage surgery. Janeen recalls several times when her son’s blood counts were down to zero: “He looked terrible. He had absolutely no energy and could barely eat or do anything.”
The difference in Jared before and after receiving blood and platelets was astounding. “You could literally see the life come back into him,” explained Janeen. “He regained his color, energy, and ability to be a ‘smart-aleck.’”
Jared’s last round of chemotherapy was in October 2011, but he continues to have full body scans every three months. Thankfully, he is still cancer-free to this day. Jared currently works as a bank teller while he finishes his degree.
Jared’s situation has motivated his mother to become a regular blood donor and to recruit others to donate through her job at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “I wish more people understood the great need [for blood] and the great value in simply being a blood donor,” said Janeen.