WOODLAND (CBS13) – A local pastor got a call he never expected: he’s a match to be a bone marrow donor. And now he’s getting ready to donate life to a man who needs it most.
Three years ago, Matt Van Peursem registered with the National Bone Marrow Registry to help to save his friend’s life.
He wasn’t a match for him then, but everything changed when he got a phone call.
“Once I found out I wasn’t a match, three years later I got a call about 2.5 weeks ago that I was a match for someone else,” Matt said.
He was a match for a man battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia in Boise, Idaho – a man he had never met, but would soon be connected to forever.
“I was aware I was on the list, I just didn’t think it would ever happen,” Matt said.
For Matt, it’s a family affair. He, his wife and the entire community had registered together years ago.
“I kind of wanted to get the call, but I think it’s amazing what he gets a chance to do,” said Kirsten Van Peursem, Matt’s wife.
Now the father of three has spent the last several weeks preparing to fly to Boise on Tuesday, and it’s not a process for the faint of heart.
“Variety of different blood tests, medical interviews,” Matt said. “I went to Berkeley for a physical and then shots starting last week every single day until I fly out.”
Bone marrow donation preparation is usually three to six months, but in this case doctors say the donor recipient is declining quickly and they need to act fast.
And Matt says, while it’s a painful process, it’s worth it in the end.
“For me personally – not just as a pastor, but as a person – I try to live by the idea of asking myself what does love require?” Matt said. “And in this situation, it means to give of my time and of myself for someone else. And I think regardless of political party or whatever, if more people did that we’d live in a better world.”
Matt hopes that his story will inspire others to register at BeTheMatch.org. He also says he would love to meet his recipient, but says it will be at least a year before that could happen.