By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
A 60-year-old grandmother from Houston is alive today because of a decision GCU student Andy Chebuhar made nine years ago.
Chebuhar, 30, on track to graduate in the fall with a degree in accounting from the Ken Blanchard College of Business, recently returned from Washington, D.C., where he donated bone marrow to Sandi Hurley, who has suffered from leukemia since 1998.
The donation was Chebuhar’s second in three years to Hurley through the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program. Chebuhar joined the program’s registry when he donated a blood sample during Army basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., in 2003.
The first donation to Hurley involved surgery for Chebuhar. But this time he donated via what is called a peripheral blood stem-cell collection, which had all the ease of a plasma-donation procedure and ultimately creates new blood cells for Hurley.
“I’m giving her 5 percent of my bone marrow,” Chebuhar said. “Then it takes two years or so for her to be back at normal blood levels.
“She’s done with chemotherapy and by now she’s out of the hospital, but her immune system will be at risk for a time.”
Chebuhar, originally from Omaha, Neb., spent six and a half years in the Army with the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, N.C. He missed three days of classes at GCU to make the recent marrow donation, although he had a memo from a three-star general to excuse him.
“That probably showed I wasn’t making this up,” he quipped.
Although Chebuhar never has met Hurley, he has become acquainted with members of her family. He said he has received emails of appreciation from several of them.
“It’s nice knowing who (the donation) is going to, and what it’s helping,” he said.
According to Chebuhar, only about one in six candidates for a bone-marrow transplant actually finds a match. However, he said the cost (about $20) and waiting time (two weeks) are minimal to be added to a donor database at www.bethematch.org. A swab kit is sent in the mail, and its return is all it takes to become a potential donor.
“If people just know about it, it’s easy to do,” Chebuhar said.
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].