Aug. 15, 2011
WASHINGTON - Three years after graduation, former Hoyas' offensive lineman Shawn Frederick will return to the Hilltop to perform one of the most heroic acts of his life and it has nothing to do with football. On Tuesday morning, Frederick will arrive at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown Hospital to a bone marrow donor.
Frederick will be taking the day off from coaching the varsity offensive line and junior varsity defense at Wilde Lake High School to arrive early at the Lombardi Cancer Center, where he will undergo a nearly five hour procedure called peripheral blood stem cell collection (PBSC) in an effort to help save the life of a 61-year old man he has never met, who was recently diagnosed with mylofibrosis.
The story of Frederick's connection with the National Marrow Donor Program began during the fall of his sophomore year at Georgetown in 2005. Frederick and some of his teammates had just finished dinner and were leaving the Leo O'Donovan Dining Hall on campus when they were approached by workers from BeTheMatch.org, who had a table just outside the doors of the dining hall. He agreed to have the inside of his cheek swabbed for DNA and submit his contact information to the Be The Match Registry, a process that took just a few minutes.
Life continued to unfold for Frederick, with little more conversation of his DNA submission, with the exception of emails from the organization. He graduated from Georgetown in 2008, returned to Wilde Lake High School in Howard County Md. to coach football, track and teach special education classes and then got married in June of 2010.
This summer, Frederick was on vacation, when he saw a missed call and a voicemail on his phone. He had a tough time understanding the message, so he returned the call, simply letting them know who he was and that he wanted to know how he could help.
"It's my understanding that once I got my DNA swabbed I went into their registry where I'm on a list with however many people they have," Frederick said. "So when they have a patient that needs bone marrow they run it through their database to find the best matches, so my name was in that registry, it came up and then they called me to see if I would be willing to do it"
Without hesitation, Frederick accepted.
"I've always given blood and I'm a healthy individual so I saw this as just a part of doing civic duty," Frederick said.
Frederick comes from a family with some background in the medical field, with his mother working as a Registered Nurse, so he knew the PBSC process would be more involved than donating blood; but it was not something that deterred him from helping.
"The first step was I had to take a health survey. It was 60 questions, a background check and a physical to see where I was healthwise," Frederick remembered. "After that they checked everything over and cleared me. So then I went to Georgetown Hospital where I underwent a physical where they did bloodwork, an EKG, a chest x-ray, checked my vitals. From that point I was given a clean bill of health and now I'm taking shots."
The shots, which Frederick has been taking since Friday morning, until the procedure on Tuesday enlarge the bones while increasing the white blood cell count. With the bones enlarging it has created some pain for Frederick, but he considers the discomfort a small price to pay for the opportunity to help save a life.
"I'm feeling a little discomfort," Frederick said. "My lower back is aching and I'm having headaches and my whole body in general is not feeling right. Then after the procedure I can't do any physical contact activity for two weeks due to an enlarged spleen, but if I have a chance to help, why not? I can deal with the pain for the opportunity to save someone's life."
Through the process Frederick has found that his fellow coaches and players at Wilde Lake, along with his former coaches at Georgetown have been extremely supportive of the sacrifice he is making.
"I told the (Wilde Lake players) this morning what's going on and they are all really supportive and have said what I'm doing is admirable," Frederick said. "(My fellow coaches) have been really supportive and my head coach is really working to adjust the practice schedule so I don't miss too much with the defensive practices. Also, the defensive line coach has been texting me through the weekend to check up on me and see how I'm doing."
For all the support Frederick has received from his colleagues and players he is quick to point to the support he has received from his wife, Christina as being comforting through the entire process.
"I've just been very fortunate that my wife, Christina has been really supportive through the whole process she's going to be there with me through the entire procedure on Tuesday," Frederick said.
Frederick, with his wife by his side, will go through the close to five hour process on Tuesday morning, but expects to be back at Wilde Lake High School for the team's practice on Wednesday afternoon. While his players are supportive of his sacrifice, Frederick joked that they may not be happy to see him on Wednesday afternoon.
"I'm probably going to be achy and exhausted by Wednesday, so if I'm cranky it might be a long practice for the guys," Frederick laughed.
Like many others, the selfless donation Frederick will make a difference. The National Marrow Donor Program and the Be The Match Foundation will help the nearly seventy percent of people who do not have a donor in their family and depend on the Be The Match Registry to save their life. Because of people like Frederick the registry now has grown to nine million donors, the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse registry of its kind in the world. If you are interested in becoming a donor visit BeTheMatch.org for more information.