West Michigan man helps save woman's life hundreds of miles away
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A West Michigan man's decision to donate bone marrow saved the life of a woman diagnosed with cancer hundreds of miles away.
Brady Beauchamp, of Richland, is a nurse at Borgess Hospital. He used his medical background to help an Arizona woman fight cancer.
Now, they share that bond for life.
For Beauchamp the decision to register his bone marrow DNA on a national registry was easy. But he never imagined that choice would save someone’s life, desperately in need.
"You do the cheek swab, send it in and that's the last thing you ever think about. You don't think it's ever going to match, It's like winning the lottery essentially," Beauchamp said.
Beauchamp,a nurse anesthetist, understood the odds. He says 6 in 10 people who need a bone marrow transplant, never get one.
5 years ago, he was flagged a perfect match for 22 year old Melissa Salas-Fisher, struggling to survive a rare form of leukemia.
She needed immediate help, so Beauchamp flew into Washington, D.C. had his blood drawn for 5 hours and sent to Mesa, Arizona.
"Right now my DNA is hers," Beauchamp said.
Salas-Fisher, now 27 and in remission, calls the day Beauchamp's blood arrived "Day Zero."
"Which is technically considered my rebirth. the day Brady's cells were transplanted into me," Salas Fisher said.
At that time, she had already made the hardest choice of her life. At diagnosis, she was 15 weeks pregnant.
"I was given the chance to either save my life or save my baby’s life," Salas-Fisher said.
Engaged with another child in tow, Salas-Fisher said the choice was clear.
She had to live. She hoped to meet the man who made that happen..
"For an entire year the only information I had on him was 28 year old "O negative" blood type," Salas-Fisher said.
And just last month, five years after the transplant., it happened.
"We had flown out there without her knowledge," Beauchamp said.
Beauchamp made the trip to Arizona to celebrate Salas-Fisher's remission.
"there are no words to describe getting to meet the person who saves your life for the first time," Salas-Fisher said.
Together, the pair achieved victory.
"We won this battle. We got this one. Cancer didn't get this one," Beauchamp said.
Instead, they got each other.
Beauchamp and Salas-Fisher hope their story shows how crucial finding a match can be to saving a life.