Gulfport father gives bone marrow to save a stranger's life - - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport father gives bone marrow to save a stranger's life


By Karen Abernathy – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It's truly an amazing story of selflessness. One person choosing to help a total stranger, even though there are risks and sacrifices involved. But for Gulfport attorney Sean Tindell, there was never really a question; he believed it was the right thing to do.

Sean, 36, and his wife Claire lead busy lives with two young boys that keep them on the go. Family is important to them, and that's one reason Sean made the decision to help save a total stranger's life. 

"It's not often you get to make a sacrifice in life and know it's going to save someone else's life," Tindell said.

The opportunity, as Sean calls it, came out of the blue.

"I was at work one day, and I had a message that Mattie from the bone marrow registry was trying to reach me," Tindell remembered.

They had found Sean 15 years after he submitted his blood sample for a bone marrow drive. While a student at USM, one of his friends was diagnosed lymphoma and Sean wanted to help.

"Students became donors for him, but also that put their name in a pool. My friend, unfortunately, passed away. No one was a match."

Now, all these years later, it turns out Sean is a match for someone he doesn't know, who lives thousands of miles away.

"I was shocked and I didn't know what it would entail."

But once he found out what it entailed, Sean knew he wanted to help. He talked to his wife about it that night.

"After we talked about it, I wasn't surprised he wanted to go forward with it," Claire Tindell said, "because he has a big heart and is always helping people. And so I knew he would want to do the right thing. So I'm supportive and very proud of him."

"We both felt that, especially looking at my two little boys. I have a 2-year-old and 8-month-old. And in 20, 30, 10 years, or when I'm dead and gone and they're 60 years old, I would hope that if they had cancer and there's a possible match for them somewhere, that whoever it was wouldn't be too inconvenienced to save their life."

Sean knows the procedure won't be easy for him. He will have shots every day for a week leading up to the procedure, which  lead to flu like symptoms.

"What it does is increase your white blood cell count and causes your bone marrow to start extracting stem cells out into your bloodstream."

And there are risks to the procedure.

"But in this situation, the benefits outweigh the risks," Claire Tindell said.

Once the decision was reached, there was no turning back.

"The bone marrow program has told me that once you have committed to it, the bone marrow recipient has to go through a lot of procedures to get ready. And if you don't do it after you've told them you would, it would almost certainly lead to that person's death."

Sean hasn't had any second thoughts about his decision to help.

"I think anybody given the chance would do it. It's an easy choice to make."

Tune in to WLOX News at 10pm Monday night where we'll take you through the procedure with Sean, and find out what his donation will mean to the recipient.

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