OU Leukemia Survivor Shares Story Before Swab Drive

By
Caleigh Bourgeois

Dateline
Updated Tue, Oct 15, 2013 10:34 am

Within just twelve days of being posted on Youtube, a video chronicling Haden DeRoberts' journey has gained almost 12,000 viewers.

During his freshman year at Ohio University, DeRoberts was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Thanks to an anonymous bone marrow donor, he was able to receive a bone marrow transplant, and is now cancer free.

"It's kind of surreal, I mean, I walk around with a significant part of that person physically in me," DeRoberts said.

The day he received his transplant, popular folk band Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros played a private show at his hospital while passing though town.

Months later, DeRoberts was watching the band play in a large crowd at the Bonnaroo music festival.

By coincidence, lead singer Alex Ebert picked DeRoberts out of a crowd of thousands to tell his story.

After discovering DeRoberts was one of the patients he had played for in Columbus, Ebert invited him onstage to tell his story.

Hillel, a Jewish organization at Ohio University runs the "Got Swabbed?" program, and connected with DeRoberts. 

"Got Swabbed?" encourages and assists students in getting swabbed to enter into the national bone marrow donor database.

Ohio University is the most successful university in the country when it comes to bone swabs.

About 7,000 Bobcats have been swabbed, and 25 have been matched.

It's a 10 minute process that involves paper work and swabbing saliva from inside the mouth.

Hillel created the web video with DeRoberts, and it's racked up quite a few views in time for Tuesday's bone marrow drive.

Lauren Goldberg, engagement professional for Hillel, said DeRoberts story is a great encouragement to get swabbed.

"There's nothing like the power of being face to face with a human being who received this gift of second life, and hearing it from their mouth that without someone having taken ten minutes to get registered, they wouldn't be here today," Goldberg said.

"Got Swabbed?" will host a swab drive in Baker Center tomorow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., where anyone can stop by and take 10 minutes to enter into the national bone marrow donor database.

As for DeRoberts, starring in a viral video and having his photograph on posters for all around campus was all worth it.

"I really like to be able to share that story because it was a pretty dark time for me, but if I can take that experience and bring some light out of it, that's ultimately what I would like to do," he said.

Tags: