ALLENDALE, Mich. — Laker football tight end Nick Keizer is being called a lifesaver. He celebrated his birthday this week by donating his stem cells to a man in Denmark who needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.
His donation comes after he and many of his football teammates swabbed the insides of their cheeks during a Michigan Blood registry drive last year, though he never thought he would be a match for anyone.
“The presentation pulled at my heart and I thought, ‘Why not sign up to be a donor?’ Yet I also thought the odds of me actually being a match can’t be that high,” Keizer said.
The match is about a 1-in-500 chance, according to Caitlin Gallagher, community engagement representative for Michigan Blood, Be The Match.
Gallagher said Michigan Blood was notified in December that Keizer was a potential match. He underwent more blood work and in February was deemed a perfect match for a 59-year-old man in Denmark.
Keizer’s donation was non-surgical and took about four hours, with needles in both of his arms. “I’m not a big needle guy, but I figured I could handle a little discomfort, because that doesn’t compare to what the patient is going through,” he said.
His stems cells were then given to a volunteer courier who flew to Denmark.
Keizer, a native of Portage, graduated April 28 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance. He has one more season of eligibility left and will play football in the fall while he pursues a master’s degree in business administration.