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Bobby Hooten wearing Delete Blood Cancer shirt

LCU Employee Bobby Hooten Donates Stem Cells to Save a Life

LCU employee Bobby Hooten (‘13) just showed up to work a table. He may end up saving a woman’s life.

Hooten, the LCU web content manager, was one of the 240 students, faculty, and staff who registered to be blood stem cell and bone marrow donors during a Delete Blood Cancer drive on campus last fall. Four months after registering, Hooten was matched to an older woman with a rare form of cancer.

“I’m so thankful LCU gave me this opportunity to do this,” said Hooten. “I just think it’s a way that I can definitely make a positive impact on someone’s life, and connecting that with the spirit of LCU, this goes along with what our university stands for. The spirit of enthusiasm from my co-workers has been really encouraging and in line with LCU’s mission. This is what we’re all about.”

Recently, Hooten traveled to a partner hospital of Delete Blood Cancer for the six hour procedure to remove stem cells from his blood stream, the method used in 75% of transplant cases. Doctors look for at least nine of ten protein markers to determine a match. Hooten’s stem cells had the best chance at being accepting and reproduced by the patient’s body and were the best chance at saving her life.

Prior to the procedure, Hooten received injections of filgrastim, a protein that helped move stem cells out of the marrow and into the blood stream. These injections caused flu-like symptoms in the days leading up to the donation.

“This might be someone’s only chance to live,” Hooten explained. “Even if it caused me a little bit of pain and illness, that’s nothing. So in my mind, how could I not?”

Due to patient confidentiality, Hooten knows little about the woman to whom he matched and donated. With so little information, he related her situation to his own family. Hooten’s son, Eli, was born eight days after his initial registration as a donor.

“I barely know anything about her,” Hooten said, “but she may have family that’s not ready to lose her yet. After having Eli, I know I really need to do this.”

Delete Blood Cancer regularly hosts drives to register potential donors for the national bone marrow donor registry. According to the organization,

  • An American is diagnosed with blood cancer every three minutes,
  • Six out of ten patients will not receive a bone marrow transplant, and
  • 70% of patients are unable to find a compatible match in their family.

Currently, Delete Blood Cancer has registered over 5 million willing donors and facilitated more than 50,000 bone marrow transplants around the world.

Hooten called the donation experience “unique and humbling.” He requests prayers for the patient and strongly encourages others to register as potential donors. More information about the donation process and how to register as a donor can be found on DeleteBloodCancer.org.