Admissions Staff Member Gives Gift of Life Before Holidays

Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Luke Beckett, '15, and his wife in the hospital

As a Rockhurst University sophomore in 2012, Luke Beckett, ’15, didn’t think much about giving his cheek a quick swab as part of an on-campus bone marrow registry drive sponsored by international organization DKMS and organized by an alumnus, John Murry, ’55, in the Massman Gallery.

It took less than 5 minutes — including the paperwork — and Beckett, who also donated blood at campus drives when he could, thought putting his name in the registry was the least he could do. According to DKMS, the global organization that organizes bone marrow drives to help find matches for those needing bone marrow transplants, less than 1 percent of those who join the registry are actually matched.

That might be why when Beckett got the voicemail, five years later, telling him he was a match, it came a surprise. A lot had changed. Beckett had graduated and was working as an admission counselor at his alma mater. He had married, and just weeks prior he and his wife had welcomed a son into the family.

“My eyes got bug-eyed when I listened to that voicemail,” he said. “It was really easy to get swabbed, but I hadn’t thought about it that much since then, so it felt really out of the blue.”

But Beckett said being surprised and having doubts are two very different things.

“I was really passionate about doing it,” he said. “They only give you so much information about your match — age, gender and diagnosis.”

The patient was a young boy. Thinking about his own son, that hit home. Beckett's wife, too, had battled Hodgkin lymphoma in high school.

“I was kind of overwhelmed emotionally, to be honest,” he said. “The thought of my son getting a diagnosis like that, or my wife needing a donor, there was no question I wanted to do it.”

Beckett was one of three potential donors for the patient, so he traveled in November for further screening that took into account family history, blood work, and more. At the end of the screening process, Beckett emerged as the best candidate for the donation, and returned to his site the week before Christmas to make his donation, a surgical extraction of bone marrow through his hip bone. He became the second student from that 2012 drive to be matched and donate, after Dustin Schroeder in 2014.

Privacy laws dictate that Beckett doesn’t know who his marrow donation recipient is. But if both sides agree, he said he looks forward to a meeting in the future. And he said he encouraged anyone who wants to help to take the time to join the registry either at a donor drive or by registering online at the DKMS website.

“It’s so easy to do, but it’s something that could literally save somebody’s life,” he said.