Former Ohio University Linebacker Donates Bone Marrow To 11-year Old

Top Quote Gift of Life Marrow Registry Donor Saves Life Amid Pandemic. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) June 18, 2020 - Boca Raton, FL – When Cody Grilliot was a linebacker on the Ohio University football team in 2014, one of his coaches – who had leukemia – gave a speech about the lifesaving potential of joining a bone marrow and stem cell registry. Inspired, Grilliot signed up at a donor recruitment drive on campus and joined the Gift of Life Marrow Registry. Recently, the power behind that cheek swab was realized when he donated bone marrow to save the life of an 11-year old boy.

    Grilliot, 25, graduated in 2017 and largely forgot about it. Earlier this year, he received a message from Gift of Life about being a match for a young child battling Myelodysplastic Disorder, a disease that can occur when the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow become abnormal. Only 30 percent of blood cancer patients find a matching donor within their families, so the other 70 percent rely on volunteer donors.

    Grilliot was excited by the promise of helping and felt duty-bound because of his youth and good health. Nevertheless, he was anxious about going through with it. “At first I was a little leery because I was unfamiliar with the whole process,” said Grilliot. “I was also in the process of buying a house and this was all in the middle of COVID.”

    Because of pandemic concerns and travel restrictions, Grilliot underwent his marrow donation procedure close to home at James Cancer Hospital Solove Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio. Approximately 20 percent of donors are asked to donate marrow, while the other 80 percent are asked to donate blood stem cells. When donors are called for children, often times the request is for this type of procedure.

    Privacy laws around the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevent Grilliot from meeting his recipient for at least one year, but he’s already looking forward to it and wants other people to consider doing a similar selfless act.

    “If you’re healthy and of the right age, I highly encourage people to think about it,” said Grilliot. “It might be a little uncomfortable, but the fact of the matter is you really are saving lives. It’s the most fulfilling thing I have ever done, by far.”

    Approximately every three minutes, a child or adult in the U.S. is diagnosed with a type of blood cancer.
    To join the registry, potential donors between 18 and 35 years old can simply request a cheek swab registration kit to be delivered to their home by visiting

    About Gift of Life Marrow Registry
    Gift of Life Marrow Registry is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. The organization, established in 1991, is dedicated to saving lives by facilitating bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood-related diseases. To learn more about Gift of Life Marrow Registry, visit

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