Former NU football player who donated bone marrow meets man whose life he saved

Thursday, February 08, 2018 06:16PM
Austin Carr provided a life-saving bone marrow donation for Roy Coe. After undergoing surgery in January 2016, they met for the first time at Super Bowl LII. (Be The Match)
CHICAGO - Former Northwestern football player Austin Carr spent Super Bowl Sunday unlike most: meeting the man whose life he saved more than two years ago.

During his freshman year at NU, Carr joined Be The Match's bone marrow registry, which helps facilitate bone marrow transplants for patients with life-threatening blood cancers and disorders. According to Be The Match, 70 percent of patients who need a transplant do not have a fully-matched donor in their family, so they turn to the registry to find a life-saving donor.

"Why not?" Carr recalled thinking as he made the decision to put his name down.

Bone marrow donations cannot be matched to patients as easily as blood donations, so it's not surprising that two years went by without Carr hearing from the organization.

But then, he got a call from Be The Match saying he was a match for Roy Coe, a 59-year-old locomotive engineer from Kansas City, Mo., in need of a transplant after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

"It was like winning the lottery and losing your kid at the same time," he explained of the opportunity. "You're not sure what it's going to be like."

Coe underwent his transplant from Austin's donation in January 2016, but it wasn't until last weekend that the two were finally able to meet.

While Coe is still in the recovery period, Minneapolis-based Be The Match invited Coe to Super Bowl LII. Carr, a rookie with the New Orleans Saints this year, also made the trip to meet his bone marrow recipient.

Be The Match interviewed Carr and then surprised the wide receiver by having Coe pop out from behind a curtain.

Austin Carr provided a life-saving bone marrow donation for Roy Coe. After undergoing surgery in January 2016, they met for the first time at Super Bowl LII.



"I felt really grateful," Carr said of those first moments when the two strangers embraced.

Carr said he and Coe will certainly stay in touch moving forward, joking, "he's already hit me up on Facebook multiple times."

If Carr and Coe's story has inspired you to join the bone marrow registry, you can sign up here.
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