Rather than give in to depression, a man chose to fight in a way that not only changed his own life for the better, but also gave a second chance to a stranger he had never met.
Gage Tappe had recently moved to Idaho and had part-time custody of one of his children.
Alone and isolated, he admits he was at a “record low.”
Looking for something to help him cope with his sadness and feel more connected, Tappe signed up as a donor in the national bone marrow registry.
“I felt like my life wasn’t worth much, so I was hoping to give myself the opportunity to put something of value into my own life by trying to help someone extend theirs and continue on the list … and you have to be alive to do that.” Tappe TODAY correspondent Carson Daly. “It gave me a sense of worth for myself that I didn’t have before.”
Several months later, Tappe received a call to inform him that he had been identified as a match. Tappe says that since he was raised to help other people in need, in whatever form, big or small, he just needed to know where and when his marrow could be collected for transplantation.
The donation was made anonymously. The identity of the recipient did not matter to Tappe, the only thing that mattered to him was being able to have a significant and positive impact on someone’s life, but neither he nor the woman his bone marrow went to could know what life was like. change your donation would turn out to be.
By the time Tia Jensen was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018, she had already been dealing with the effects of multiple sclerosis for two decades.
For this latest health hurdle, she started a chemotherapy course at the Seattle Cancer Center Alliance and added her name to the waiting list for a bone marrow donor.
After the successful transplant procedure, Jensen was surprised to learn that not only had his leukemia gone into remission, but thanks to his recently revitalized immune system, the multiple sclerosis he had been battling for 20 years was also in remission.
Ecstatic, Jensen wanted to reach out and thank his donor. Two years and many letters later, Jensen finally received Tappe’s contact information and the two corresponded. Although delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, they finally met in person on the set of The TODAY Show.
“I’ve been wanting to know [him] for so long … I missed meeting Gage because of the pandemic. And I realized that thanks to Gage, there are many milestones that I will not miss. I am alive. I’m here. I’m going to be with my family, to be in the memories, ”Jensen told TODAY’S Sheinelle Jones.
Thankfully Jensen sees Tappe as a true role model. To honor him, and so that more patients can enjoy recovery stories with similar happy results, Jensen has partnered with Be the party for an online donor registration event in the hopes of inspiring others to follow suit by getting tested and step up to donate as long as they are compatible.
He has high hopes for the initiative.
“I think too often we forget how kind and generous people are. And I’m so thankful that [Gage] I was willing to be brave and take that step and share this goodness and marrow and give myself a second chance at life, ”she told Daly. “All of this was done without knowing anything about me, and I am dazzled by the charity and beauty of it.”
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