BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Three years ago, like all of his teammates, UB linebacker Matt Otwinowski sent in his cheek swab as a part of the “Be The Match” program.
A few months ago, he received a phone call- saying he was a match.
“It was a stressful time with spring ball and exams, midterms and things like that but I knew that that had to be a priority because I mean that’s saving someone’s life,” the senior linebacker said. “That person has a family, friends who love them and that’s gotta come before any stress that I have.”
Otwinowski had bloodwork done, the surgery was scheduled, and he received multiple injections in the days leading up to the procedure.
“I was awake the whole time. They take blood out of your arm and it goes through a blood separator, they get the stem cells out and it goes back in your hand,” Otwanowski explained. “It was a long process, they told me it’d be about four hours and it ended up taking about seven. I was sitting there kind of still for seven hours, just blood pumping in and out the entire time.”
The experience is one he’ll never forget.
“I don’t really think anything compares to that. I think that’s an ultimate thing of servitude, and just serving God,” he said. “Credit to all the people here, my family back home who supported me and helped me with this because I couldn’t have done it without a lot of help.”
The linebacker doing his part to save the life of a complete stranger.
“I just think that’s gotta come before football, before school, any of that. Ultimately, we’re here to help each other.”