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Fan who joined bone marrow registry at game finds a match

Michael Hellrich registered at Scottrade Center in 2013 and donated marrow in October after finding a match

by Elise Butler / St. Louis Blues

"I think I'm going to donate bone marrow. You know that thing I signed up for a long time ago?"

That's the text that Michael Hellrich sent his wife, a nurse, this summer. He had just been notified by Be the Match that four years after signing up for the bone marrow registry at a Blues game, he had the chance to help save someone's life.

In March of 2013, the Blues held Be the Match night in honor of Mandi Schwartz - the sister of Blues forward Jaden Schwartz - who passed away in 2011 after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Hellrich heard about the drive a few days before and decided to get to Scottrade Center early to register.

When he arrived, there was already a line.

"That just goes to show how good Blues fans are to people," he said.

Video: Blues fan donates bone marrow to save a life

The actual sign-up itself was quick - simply fill out some information, swab your cheek and go enjoy the game. He reconfirmed his registration annually, but thought that was that.

"The chances are against you actually getting called, just because the odds of a match are so low when you're not family," Hellrich said.

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: If you're at the game, don't forget to stop by Section 119 to join Be The Match. Thanks to the fans that have. pic.twitter.com/hUGNmWj1L1

Until this summer, when he received an email from Be the Match. There are 10 markers they use to measure a match, and he matched all 10 with a teenage girl who had leukemia. From there, everything happened quickly.

Hellrich was flown out to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. for further testing. Once everything was confirmed, the surgery was scheduled. The doctors took 1,300 ML, or approximately 5 cups, of marrow from his hips to give to his match.

"It's not fun," Hellrich said of the procedure. "But it's totally worth it. One hundred percent."

In fact, he would do it again.

Tweet from @bleemus: Honored to be donating marrow to a teenager with leukemia very soon because of this event over 4 years ago, Thanks @stlouisblues! https://t.co/fIvPGgGFbO

"It's the opportunity to save somebody's life," he said. "How can you not do that?"

Hellrich's donation appointment was at 4 p.m. The teenage leukemia patient received it by 1 a.m. the next morning.

"Usually these people, this is their last hope," Hellrich said. "They've done the chemo, they've done whatever radiation they need to do; this is it for them. It's this or nothing. That's when it breaks your heart that there could be a match for somebody out there."

Due to privacy laws, Hellrich does not know who received his bone marrow. One year after the surgery, if both parties consent, contact information can be exchanged. So for now, he's doing what he can to help spread the word.

"If you have the opportunity, I would do it and I think everyone should if they can."

The Blues will hold another bone marrow registry night for Be The Match at the Nov. 25 game against the Minnesota Wild. Fans can help saves lives by joining the registry outside Section 114 until the end of the second intermission. Click here to learn more information.

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