Campus Currents

Best Shot
Cameron Lyle '13 earns a new title.

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Jared Smith-Fat Rabbit
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Cameron Lyle '13, a standout at throwing the shot put and the hammer, recently threw away the rest of his college athletic career to become a bone marrow donor.

After Lyle had his cheek swabbed two years ago by the National Marrow Donor Program in a drive sponsored by the football team, he didn't give it another thought. But in February, registry officials told the athlete from Plaistow, N.H., that he was a perfect match for a 28-year-old man dying of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Without a transplant, the patient had less than six months to live—but Lyle could change that. The odds of finding an unrelated donor, were about one in 4 or 5 million. And Lyle was the one.

He said yes immediately, even though it meant undergoing surgery in April and missing the crowning events of his senior season, the America East Conference championship. "I never had a second thought," Lyle told NBC's "Today" show. NBC News posted the quote online with a photo of Lyle in his hospital bed, holding up a hand-lettered sign that reads, "Be the match. Wildcat pride," and the image went viral. As news of his decision spread, people in cyberspace cheered him on in an outpouring of appreciation for the choice he had made.

UNH coach Jim Boulanger, supportive of Lyle from the start, was not surprised by his selfless choice. Boulanger had, in fact, coached another athlete who made the same decision. Two years ago, Catherine Perrella '11, an 800-meter sprinter, ended her senior season early to become a donor. Two others also donated bone marrow while at UNH: Erik Poulin '13 and Amira Kabarra '11. These students and alums, like Lyle, are among the very few who get chosen as donors. And, like Lyle, they all said yes.

Lyle knows what he gave up. But compared to what he gave—a second chance at life—there's just no contest. "When you have an opportunity to save someone," he told "Today," "you gotta go for it." And with those words, Lyle clinched a title that will stay with him for the rest of his life: true hero.

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