Inside USD

USD Grad Makes Life-Saving Gift

Monday, August 17, 2009

marrow-photo“Strange isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

— Clarence in its “It’s a Wonderful Life”

When Elizabeth  Jordan ‘05 gave a bone marrow donation last year that helped save a woman’s life, she felt great. But it wasn’t until later that she realized how many other lives she’d touched as well.

In 2002, a friend of Jordan’s at the University of San Diego had another friend who needed a bone marrow transplant and asked Jordan to register as a possible donor. Jordan did but she wasn’t a match and didn’t think much about it after  that.

Five years later, Jordan had earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and was a graduate student and employee at the University of Southern California when she got a call saying she was probably a match for a woman in Texas with leukemia who needed a transplant after chemotherapy had killed off her white blood cells.

She immediately said yes and after what she described as a “very minor inconvenience” of tests and procedures she become a donor in the spring of 2008 for Rhonda Christensen, a computer scientist.

For reasons of privacy and confidentiality, donor and recipient know very little about each other during the process. Jordan knew Christensen was a female in her 40s and that was about it. But she immediately felt a bond with Christensen. “She’s going to be fine,” Jordan told her dad. And indeed, Christensen is now in remission.

Months after the procedure, Jordan received a letter from Christensen expressing her gratitude. And that’s when it really hit her.

The letter explained that Christensen had two sons and many other friends and relatives who had been praying for her recovery. “Tears started streaming down my face, and that’s when it became real,” Jordan said. She realized she’d impacted not just an individual or a family but an entire community. “That felt so nice.”

The two got to meet in person last month as Jordan traveled to Dallas. “She (Jordan) is truly remarkable to me,” Christensen told a local paper there. “She really is a new member of our family.”

For Jordan, the opportunity “to be able to really know and see the impact of an act of kindness and how far it reaches was a life-changing experience,” she said.

At USC, Jordan manages the university’s career recruiting program and is working on her doctorate in educational leadership. She was inspired to work with students looking for jobs after being impressed by USD’s Office of Career Services.

“Elizabeth has always had a heart of gold — we saw it when she was at USD, and we see it continuing in her personal commitment to helping others in so many different ways,” said Linda Scales, USD’s director of career services.

— Liz Harman

To find out how to register as a bone marrow donor, go to www.marrow.org.

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