Bone marrow donor Phil Ratcliff: Why wouldn't you donate?

April 29, 2015 | by Nicole White

Updated: May 1, 2015

More than a decade after joining the bone marrow registry during a blood drive at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Phil Ratcliff received a call that he was a match for a leukemia patient. By then, he’d left his military career to start his own financial business, married and had three children. One thing hadn’t changed, however – his worldview.

 

bone marrow donor Bone marrow donor Phil Ratcliff and his family will meet the patient who received his donation at the Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion.

 

“Why wouldn’t you sign up to help somebody or help some kid?” said Ratcliff, 34. “I think the world would be a better place if more people helped each other out.”

On Friday, May 1, at City of Hope's 39th annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion, Ratcliff, who lives in Ohio, met the 16-year-old Los Angeles cancer survivor whose life he saved through his stem cell donation. Although she is a high school sophomore still contemplating her college options, and he’s the president of a finance company halfway across the country, they now have much in common.{C}

“She’s a DNA chimera now,” he said. “So, half of her DNA is mine – I’m happy I helped someone and I hope it’s made a difference for her.”

Separate lives on opposite sides of the country

Ratcliff set his sights on the military at 16 years old. He was accepted to every academy to which he applied, and chose West Point, ultimately graduating in the top 10 percent of his class. For seven years, he served happily before deciding he wanted to run his own company.

He admits that calling the shots – something that’s hard to do in a military career – was alluring. That his company is named Rebel Financial is no coincidence.

Ratcliff has three children – two daughters ages 2 and 6, a 4-year-old son. He and his wife, Stephanie, are expecting another daughter in July.

His wife has offered him insight on the importance of bone marrow donation: She’s an oncology and hematology nurse at a children’s hospital. It was interesting, he said, to experience the “other side” of transplantation.

So easy to save a life

As for the donation process itself, that was easy. Ratcliff made his donation of bone marrow stem cells on Jan. 29, 2013. He was back at work the next day.

“For a week or so, I felt like my back was thrown out,” he said. “It’s just discomfort. Like a bone bruise – and you can save somebody’s life for that.”

In his opinion, it’s an easy step that nearly anyone can take to save a life.

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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.

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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.

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