A chance meeting with a cute girl helped Daniel Alcantor save a life.
The Class of 2012 Escalon High School alum –who will graduate later this month from the U.S. Naval Academy – had the opportunity to become a bone marrow donor and that proved to be a lifesaving move.
The son of Robert and Tammy Alcantor of Escalon, and older brother of Andrew (Class of 2015), Daniel was in San Diego training with the Navy when a series of events started to unfold.
“He and few friends were at an event when a cute girl asked ‘Do you want to save someone’s life today?’,” mom Tammy explained. Since he was approached by a ‘cute girl,’ she said her son agreed and then was introduced to the Be The Match Registry.
After being registered and samples taken, Daniel continued on with his training and then was contacted while on a family vacation in Hawaii.
“Daniel received an email that indicated he was a bone marrow match for a recipient. Daniel eagerly agreed for more testing to confirm that he was a match and was in good health to make the donation,” Tammy explained. “He had to work hard to get this done as the Naval Academy does not give you a lot of freedom.”
Once he was confirmed to be a donor, it was determined he would be donating blood stem cells, not actual marrow.
“That required that a week prior to the donation that he get injections so that his body would build up the cells needed for the recipient,” Tammy said. “While this was not a very easy task being that he was limited to being able to leave the Academy, Daniel made it work and was able to coordinate his injection at the Academy.”
Though he had a few side effects from the injections, Daniel went to Georgetown University Hospital where he made his donation and the recipient received it the next day. There were still concerns that the blood stem cells could be rejected by the recipient’s body. After a few months, however, the news came that the recipient was doing well.
After a period of time had passed, Daniel was asked if he was interested in meeting the recipient and he was able to do that, meeting Donnie Lewis and his family at a Boston Red Sox game, where Daniel and Donnie got to throw out the first pitch. Tammy was also able to attend the game.
“We were so happy to see how well he was doing and words cannot explain the feelings and emotions that were shared that day,” she said.
He has stayed in touch with the Lewis family, including spending Easter with them earlier this year.
The entire Alcantor family will be able to meet the recipient at Daniel’s upcoming graduation. He graduates on May 27 with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering.
“His service assignment is Navy Pilot and he will be reporting to Pensacola, Florida on July 1,” Tammy explained. “He will spend two years in flight school. His goal has been to be a fighter pilot but he is open to experiencing other options in flight school before making that decision. After flight school he will have an eight-year commitment to the Navy.”
It also took commitment to stick with the donation process, but definitely worth it, said Tammy.
“He did this first out of sheer personal motivation to possibly get to talk with a cute girl,” his mom said, “but would later realize the importance of his actions.”