April 28, 2015 | by Nicole White
Updated: May 1.
For Lars Nijland, the reason to become a member of a bone marrow registry was simple.
“I always thought there would be no easier way to save somebody’s life,” said the 24-year-old student at Germany's University of Goettingen, who signed up for the registry during a drive on his campus.
Nijland met the patient, Amanda Cooper, now 9, whose life he saved at the 39th annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion at City of Hope on May 1. Germany has one of the largest bone marrow donor registries in the world, and in recent years, many of the donors who have visited the BMT Reunion at City of Hope have hailed from Nijland’s home country.
In fact, he has two classmates who have also been bone marrow donors.
During the week, Nijland lives in Goettingen, where he studies agriculture. On the weekends and holidays, he travels back to his home village of Staffhortst, which is near Hanover. He’s studying to be a farmer, and says he’s interested in cattle and machines. He spends his free time volunteering as a firefighter, riding his motorbike and spending time with his girlfriend, Franziska, who will join him at the reunion.
He was excited to meet the girl who received his donation, though he knew very little about her. Now, he is the proud owner of a scrapbook showing him Amanda's adventures since receiving his bone marrow on what she called "our bone marrow birthday," from her time in the hospital to meeting Buddy the cake boss.
“It’s a big pleasure for me, and I’m very excited to meet my recipient,” he said. “In some ways, she’s my genetic twin. I want to make sure she’s OK. My intention in donating was to help someone or, in other words, give someone the chance of a second life.”
Aside from leaving him tired for a couple of days after his donation, the process of donating was easy and practically painless, Nijland said.
“You don’t have to take care of anything – and there’s no easier way to do something good,” he said. “With a little luck, you save somebody’s life."
Learn more about the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute at City of Hope and more about joining the bone marrow registry through Be the Match.
Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.