Kaela Anderson: Willing to Be a Match

Kaela Anderson

During her years as a Gopher swimmer, Kaela Anderson routinely volunteered at the annual HopeDay Festival—an event supported by student-athletes that brightens the lives of children with cancer and life-threatening medical conditions.

Each year at the event, a group from the Be A Hero Become A Donor Foundation encourages students and families to join a bone marrow registry, and with a simple cheek swab, Anderson did her part to potentially save a life.

The odds of being selected are very low—only one in 540 registered donors will go on to donate—but three years later Anderson got the life-changing call.

Most of the time, a less invasive peripheral blood stem cell procedure is performed, but Anderson underwent surgery. Doctors made two incisions on her pelvic bone, taking out almost a liter of bone marrow.

“Honestly, it wasn’t really that much pain for the cost of saving a life,” Anderson said. “And I would do it again if I had to tomorrow.”

Now fully recovered from her procedure earlier in June, the student-athlete development intern is planning this year’s HopeDay Festival on Sept. 13.

“I think this year I’m gonna do a little speech at the HopeDay Festival to get [student-athletes] excited to get signed up [for the registry],” Anderson said. “It’s just so cool to be a part of something bigger than you. … I never thought that I’d be chosen to do this and I’m so happy that I was.”

Read more and learn about bone marrow donation

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities