October 4, 2012

Defensive Backs Coach Ryan Mattison Donates Marrow for Child

KINGSTON, R.I. – Ryan Mattison will be sore for the next few days.

The family of the young child he donated bone marrow for will be grateful for the rest of their lives.

Earlier this week, Mattison was at Mass General Hospital in Boston, where doctors performed a bone marrow extraction. He was back in the Rhode Island football offices one day later, reporting to work just hours after leaving Mass General, where he'd been kept overnight for monitoring following the procedure.

Mattison praised the work of the doctors and care he received from the nursing staff at Mass General.

"Everyone there was so gracious, and they kept saying, 'Thank you,'" Mattison said. "These doctors and nurses also work with the recipients, so they understand the need that exists. They see the families who are hoping for help. Seeing their response to what was happening really made it clear that this was the right thing to do."

Mattison is the third person from URI in the last 18 months to be an exact match found through the football team's annual bone marrow registration drive on behalf of Be the Match and the National Marrow Donor Program. Current senior Matt Greenhalgh made a donation for an adult male in April of 2011, and former women's rowing captain Grace Rignanese was a match for an 18-year-old girl last January.

"I had no reservations about going though with the donation," Mattison said. I'm happy to be able to give the opportunity at life for a child. Knowing that within hours of them taking my marrow sample the recipient would get it was pretty exciting to hear."

Mattison, who joined head coach Joe Trainer's staff in February, helped recruit people to register for the marrow drive last April. However, it wasn't until talking with Trainer during the drive that he signed up as a potential donor, a decision that very well may have saved the life of his recipient.

"While we were helping people register, Coach Trainer approached me and asked if I had thought about doing it. I realized, 'You know what? I'm asking people to sign up, but I hadn't thought about it myself,'" Mattison said. "I read over the materials, and decided to do it. I didn't expect it to happen right away, but it happened very quickly.

"I am a faithful person, and I believe things happen for a reason. If I don't get hired to coach here, this doesn't happen."

Mattison said the only reservation he had was that he got the call to make the donation during Rhode Island's season.

"Coach Trainer eliminated that reservation right away," Mattison said. "When I told Coach Trainer about the situation, he was on board. That put me at ease. I am committed to this football program and this team, but you are talking about saving a life here."

If he worked a regular desk job, Mattison said he probably would have stayed home for a couple days to rest. However, with the Rams set to host in-state rival Brown this weekend, he limited his time away.

"I am a little bit uncomfortable, but I can handle it," Mattison said. "The discomfort is certainly not enough to dissuade me from the decision. Knowing that there is a family out there dealing with the type of stress they have in their lives, it puts a lot of things into perspective. For me to have the opportunity to help somebody in this way, why wouldn't I do it?"

Over the last four years, the Rhode Island football team has added more than 900 new registrants to the National Marrow Donor Program. To learn more about marrow donation or to make an online monetary donation, visit the Be the Match Foundation website.



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