New Castle News

April 23, 2013

College athlete ends career to donate bone marrow

By Alex Lippa
CNHI News Service

PLAISTOW, N.H. — Last month, Cameron Lyle of Plaistow, New Hampshire had a decision to make.

He could finish up his senior season of track at the University of New Hampshire, or he could give the season up and have an opportunity to save someone’s life.

It was a no-brainer.

Lyle will be donating his bone marrow to an anonymous recipient on April 24. As a result, he will have to miss the final two meets of his career, including the America East Championships, where he was hoping to throw shot put.

“I knew right away I was definitely going to donate,” said Lyle, who graduated from Timberlane Regional High School in 2009. “I was pretty terrified at first, but it is starting to settle in.”

Lyle had his mouth swabbed during his sophomore year, when many UNH athletes were being encouraged to join the bone marrow registry.

He didn’t think anything of it until a few months ago when he received a call from the National Marrow Donor Program telling him there was a possibility of being a match. Just a few weeks ago, the news was more clear. He was a 100 percent match.

“They told me it was a one in 5 million chance of me being a match for a non-family member,” Lyle said. “They gave me the timeline and everything’s been moving quickly after that.”

Lyle will be donating to a 28-year-old male who is suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. By law, Lyle and the recipient must remain anonymous to each other for one year.

“He has six months to live and I have the possibility to buy him a couple more years,” Lyle said.

After the surgery, Lyle will not be able to lift more than 20 pounds over his head for a few weeks, putting throwing the discus, hammer and shot put out of the equation.

When Lyle received the news, he texted his mother, Christine Sciacca almost immediately. She said tears came to her eyes when she heard what he would be doing.

“He’s my hero,” Sciacca said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him and how he’s been so humble about it.”

Lyle said he knew his mother would be proud of him, but he had different feelings about telling his coach, Jim Boulanger.

“I felt like I was walking into the principal’s office and I had done something wrong.” Lyle said.

But Boulanger completely understood when Lyle told him.

“I told him, you either do 12 throws at the conference championships, or you give another man a few more years,” Boulanger said. “It was easy for me.”

But it’s been a lot tougher for Sciacca.

“It’s been painful,” she said. “I don’t know of many 21-year-olds who would give up their last year of track to help another human.”

Sciacca will be with Lyle when he goes to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston later this month. Lyle and the recipient will be able to anonymously keep in contact for a year, until they both have the choice to sign consent forms to reveal their identities.

“I’d love to meet him some day,” Lyle said. “He’s not that much older than myself. I just can’t imagine what he’s going through.”