Football Team’s Marrow Program Continues to Save Lives

The University of Rhode Island football team continues to save lives through its annual bone marrow registration drive on behalf of “Be the Match” and the National Marrow Donor Program.

Ryan Mattison

In October, assistant football coach Ryan Mattison became the third member of the URI athletics family to save a life through a marrow donation. Mattison was found to be a match for a young child and underwent a procedure to extract marrow at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

He joined senior football player Matt Greenhalgh and former URI women’s rower Grace Rignanese ’12, who both had made donations in the previous 18 months. Greenhalgh donated for an adult male in April of 2011 and got to meet his recipient in August, while Rignanese donated for an 18-year-old girl last January.

Mattison, who joined head coach Joe Trainer’s staff in February, helped recruit people to register for the marrow drive last April. However, it wasn’t until talking with Trainer during the drive that he signed up as a potential donor, a decision that very well may have saved the life of his recipient.

John Greenhalgh

“I am a faithful person, and I believe things happen for a reason,” Mattison said. “If I don’t get hired to coach here, this doesn’t happen.”

Mattison said the only reservation he had was that he got the call to make the donation during Rhode Island’s season.

“Coach Trainer eliminated that reservation right away,” Mattison said. “When I told Coach Trainer about the situation, he was on board. That put me at ease. I am committed to this football program and this team, but you are talking about saving a life here.”

A fourth donor match through the drive will happen in late November. Sophomore football player John Greenhalgh, the younger brother of Matt, learned he was a match and is scheduled to donate his marrow near the end of the football season.

“It’s amazing when you think about it,” John Greenhalgh said. “What are the odds? Four matches overall, and two of them are brothers? I’m really excited at the opportunity to make someone else’s life better. It’s pretty humbling when you get that call.”