Unable to help his teammates, Penn State forward David Glen watched helplessly as the Nittany Lions fell 3-2 to the No. 2 ranked team in the nation this past Saturday.
By the time the game was over, Glen was already growing tired, preparing his departure from the Pegula Ice Arena.
Glen may have been exhausted, but he hadn’t played a single minute that night. Even so, he still had dished out the most important assist of the week. Only 24-hours earlier, Glen had begun the first of four injections as part of a bone marrow donation procedure. A member of Be The Match, Penn State’s assistant captain received word earlier in the month that he was a match for a patient in need.
“The first time I found out I may have been a match was last spring,” Glen said on Wednesday, less than a day removed form his final treatment. “I had to do some other blood test and then it got more serious towards November/December and then in December I found out I’d be a match.”
Glen started the procedure, a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) on Friday, Jan. 24 when he traveled to the Geisinger-Bloomsburg (Pa.) Hospital. The Alberta native will never know who will receive the donation, but when his name was called he stepped up and made good on his membership, helping save someone’s life in the process.
“All I know is it’s going to woman in her 50’s” Glen said.
“The first time they do some blood test, they do an injection, and then the next four days are just injections daily to promote the white blood count and that sort of thing so they are able to harvest it,” Glen said of the process.
“Right now I’m just experiencing a little soreness and am warn out. Yesterday we went back to hospital and did the last round of injections. They hook you up to a machine. One needle in one arm, one coming out other and harvest what they need. Six hours hooked up to the machine, and then I was on my way.”
According to Be The Match, the five-day PBSC donation is a non-surgical procedure and is one of two methods of collecting blood-forming cells for bone marrow transplants. A 7-10 day timetable is typical for recovery for most PBSC donors and mild bone pain can result due to the excessive stem cell crowding within the bone marrow.
As a result, Glen has already missed one game and will miss two more this weekend against Ohio State as he continues to recover from his treatments. For a program in its first real year of Division I play, every player on the roster is key but head coach Guy Gadowsky didn’t think twice about it when Glen came to him with the news.
“You can see this by how he plays and by getting to know him, he’s the ultimate team guy,” Gadowsky said. “He’s very, very under-spoken. He’s very, very humble. He’s such an all-about-the-team guy. He doesn’t like the limelight. I love the way he is.”
“When he came in, we were certainly on the same page since the word ‘Go,’” Gadowsky said. “He was just very proud to do it and have that opportunity right from the word ‘Go.’ …We’re very proud of him and I’m very proud our program is associated with him.”
“I was nervous,” Glen said of breaking the news to his coach. “At that point I didn’t really know a timeline so I was a little bit in the dark and apprehensive at first. But after talking it was completely different. Coach was excited and on board right from the beginning and pumped for me.”
“The response has been very surreal. I’m just so fortunate to be in this opportunity. A few games are well worth the sacrifice to give this lady a second chance to live her life and beat her struggle with cancer.”
As a sign read in the student section last week, Glen’s donation to an anonymous person in need really is the “ultimate assist.” And as Glen took the ice to be honored during an intermission last week, the crowd stood and cheered his actions.
His teammates and coaches are equally as proud of his efforts. In a small way, Glen’s willingness to do something so meaningful for a stranger a sign that he is equally committed to his teammates. Just doing what is right because it’s right, not for the fame that he has rightly received over the past week.
“It’s something so little to save a life,” Captain Tommy Olczyk said. “It’s very cool. And it’s something that everyone on our team is proud of, we all look up to him for what he did. It’s awesome.”
“He’s a three-way player, in both zones and off the ice.”
To learn more about Be The Match and the PBSC donation process, visit BeTheMatch.org.