Pediatric emergency physician Dr. David Kessler donated marrow to save a life
Many people who know Dr. Kessler are aware that he saves lives every day. However, many are not aware of the 15-year-old girl he saved earlier this year by donating bone marrow. He agreed to share his story in the hopes that it might encourage others to save lives.
Dr. Kessler, a pediatric emergency physician, joined Gift of Life’s registry over 10 years ago. He has always felt an obligation to give blood as often as possible and felt that becoming a volunteer bone marrow donor was just an extension of that.
While he felt that he would definitely be called as a match one day, he had forgotten about the cheek swab when it didn’t happen right away. “I was initially contacted by Gift of Life in 2013 about being a potential match, but it didn’t go through,” said Kessler. “When I received the second call a year later, I thought about how the donation would impact my work, family, and my own health. In my line of work, saving lives is part of the job. But, as selfish as it sounds, I thought, could I really squeeze this into my busy life?”
Dr. Kessler’s decision to move forward and donate required balancing work, family, and considering the life of a complete stranger that he was destined to save. Once he decided to go ahead with the donation, the process was easy. It took some creative maneuvering to manage the appointments in his work schedule, but it was all worth it. Donating made him appreciate each moment with his family more than ever.
“It was a pleasure working with Dr. Kessler, and he went above and beyond the call of a donor,” said Sarah Fernette, work-up coordinator at Gift of Life. “He battled flight cancellations due to a snowstorm and ended up making it home in time for his donation by taking a train and digging his car out of several feet of snow.”
Dr. Kessler, who works daily with patients suffering from blood cancers, thinks donating is a very personal choice. “This experience gave me a second lease on my life and reminds you how short life can be,” he said. “I wanted to help but also had a family to take care of. Without their tremendous support, I never could have gone forward.”
Dr. Kessler resides with his wife and two daughters in New Jersey. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the saxophone and practices Taekwondo.