A Perfect Match: Student-Athletes Help Save Two Lives

For the second time in nine months, a student-athlete helped save a life by donating bone marrow

Former Women’s Rowing Team Captain Grace Rignanese ’11 donated bone marrow this January at the Rhode Island Blood Center in Providence. Her marrow will be given to an 18-year-old woman.

“It’s pretty amazing to think that you have the opportunity to change somebody else’s life for the better,” said Rignanese, who lives in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “When I found out that I was an exact match, the decision to donate was really a no brainer.”

Rignanese, who helped Rhode Island win the Atlantic 10 championship during her junior and freshman seasons, registered as a possible marrow donor during her sophomore year. It wasn’t until nearly three years later, on Dec. 20, that she learned she was a perfect match for the young woman.

Current URI football player Matt Greenhalgh, a senior from Chepachet, R.I, was honored during halftime of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans this January for saving the life of a leukemia patient with his donation last April. He registered to become a potential donor two years ago.

He and Rignanese were found to be matches through the football team’s annual bone marrow registration drive on behalf of the National Marrow Donor Program.

URI Football Head Coach Joe Trainer has organized the marrow drive for the last three years. During that span, the football players have recruited more than 700 new registrants, including Rignanese and Greenhalgh. “To have two donors from our drive is just incredible,” Trainer said. “Hopefully this continues to raise awareness for our Marrow Donor Drive and the need for potential donors.”

This year’s Marrow Donor Drive will be held Thursday, April 26. For more information, contact Linda Brown, 401.874.2406.