SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — One Bryant University football player is making an impact off the field, putting his fears aside to save the life of a complete stranger.
In March 2018, Stephen Olive and nearly 100 of his teammates participated in the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation’s “Get in the Game. Save a Life” program.
“I Googled the stats – it’s only a 1-in-540 chance that you get matched with somebody,” Olive explained.
That simple cheek swab two years ago resurfaced as a match, but after having back surgery his freshman year, Olive was unable to donate his bone marrow.
Instead, he opted to donate stem cells, taking shots for five days beforehand to overproduce the cells. The hospital visit took five hours, which included a pre-donation physical and a central line into Olive’s neck.
“Saving someone’s life, just talking about it versus actually doing it, are two very, very different things,” he said. “More than willing to help someone, help in that way. Not much of an inconvenience to go out of your way to help save someones life so I decided to do it.”
Although the coronavirus pandemic made it challenging to go to the hospital, Olive said he had to put those fears aside.
“Cancer wasn’t going to put itself on hold just for the pandemic,” he said. “It’s still out there killing people, so I had to swallow any fear I had of coronavirus and just do it.”
On May 6, Olive completed the donation at Roger Williams Hospital in Providence, saving the life of a 67-year-old man battling leukemia.
“People don’t often get to be that tool to save someone, so it felt really good to be able to do that,” he said. “I try and be the guy that sets a good example for my teammates. I always try and be someone they can look up to.”
Chris Merritt, the coach of the Bryant football team, was not surprised to see one of his senior leaders make a difference.
“When I first saw the story and I saw it was Stephen, I knew it matched, it seemed right,” Merritt said. “Just looking at Stephen, he’s helping somebody. It’s a selfless act.”