UM Student Donates Bone Marrow Through ‘Be The Match’ Program

Donation benefits anonymous 12-year-old with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Dr. Carolyn Bigelow (left) gives post-operative instructions to pharmacy student Adam Marshall after he donated bone marrow. Photo by UMMC photographer Jay Ferchaud

OXFORD, Miss. – Impacting the health of patients is something for which all pharmacy students at the University of Mississippi strive, but after learning his bone marrow was a match for a 12-year-old with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, that goal took a new twist for Adam Marshall.

“Not a lot of people can say that they donated bone marrow,” Marshall said. “I knew that it was going to help somebody, and everyone I talked to was really supportive.”

Along with some 80 other pharmacy students at Ole Miss, Marshall, a Memphis native enrolled in the second year of UM’s professional pharmacy program, participated in “Be The Match,” a national program that registers potential bone marrow donors with patients in need. Marshall was notified in June that he was the first match from the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy.

Everyone at the pharmacy school is proud of Marshall, said Chelsea Bennett, assistant dean for student services.

“We were all excited when we heard the news that one of our students was a match,” Bennett said. “This is a big commitment, and Adam has demonstrated great selflessness by donating. I hope that because of Adam’s example, even more students sign up for the registry.”

After completing blood work, an electrocardiogram, a physical and other preoperative tests, Marshall drove to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson for the procedure.

“I was there for two days during the surgery, and my recovery time is about four weeks,” he said. “It was painful, but the pain was manageable. Today, I feel pretty good. Carrying a backpack is a little rough though.”

Dr. Carolyn Bigelow, a hematologist at the medical center, was a member of the team of physicians that harvested Marshall’s bone marrow.

“Adam performed a very selfless act to undergo a bone marrow harvest procedure for someone he does not even know,” Bigelow said. “I am continually amazed at the generosity of people like Adam who are willing to give someone a second chance at life by providing a lifesaving organ like bone marrow.”

Bone marrow grows back within three to four weeks of being harvested, she said.

U.S. law requires that donors and recipients remain anonymous for a year, but Marshall hopes to one day meet the recipient of his bone marrow.

“I would love to meet the child,” he said. “It would be great to be able to talk to my recipient and see how he or she is doing.”

Marshall encourages his fellow students, as well as others, to participate in the match program or other lifesaving programs.

“Whether it’s donating blood or bone marrow, anything will help,” he said. “You could have an opportunity to save a life.”

Donating to a complete stranger came down to simply doing what’s right, Marshall said.

“Someone asked me if I had a great story for why I donated, and I don’t,” he said. “I just knew it was something I needed to do.”

For more information on the national marrow donor program, visit To register as a donor in Mississippi, contact the Mississippi Marrow Donor Program at 601-984-5617.