PLAISTOW, N.H. — Cameron Lyle is ending his college track career early to donate bone marrow to a 28-year-old stranger.
“He has six months to live, and I have the possibility to buy him a couple more years,” said Lyle, a senior at the University of New Hampshire who will forgo the shot put in the last two meets of the season, including the America East championships.
Lyle's surgery is scheduled this week at Massachusetts General Hospital. For three weeks after, he won't be able to lift more than 20 pounds over his head. That means the discus, hammer and shot put are out of the question.
As a sophomore, Lyle and other UNH athletes had their mouths swabbed as part of a procedure to join the bone marrow registry. He didn't think much about it until a few months ago, when he learned he could be a match for a non-family member with leukemia. The odds of that happening, he said, were 1 in 5 million.
Lyle learned the match was certain a few weeks ago. He "knew right away" he would donate marrow rather than compete, he said.
Lyle told his mother about his decision but was nervous about approaching his coach, Jim Boulanger. As it turned out, the coach needed no convincing.
“I told him, 'You either do 12 throws at the conference championships, or you give another man a few more years,'” said Boulanger. “It was easy for me."
By law, Lyle and the recipient must remain anonymous to each other for one year, but Lyle said he hopes they one day meet. “He’s not that much older than myself," he said. "I just can’t imagine what he’s going through.”
Details for this story were reported by The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Mass.