An Unexpected Hero

By Susan Shinn Turner

This spring, Steven Page was contacted about being a potential match for a peripheral blood stem cell donation. He’d had a cheek swab as part of signing up for Be The Match register.

He was asked to get another cheek swab, but didn’t hear anything back until this summer, when he was asked to be on standby.

Then he got another call.

“Can we talk?”

A conversation took place, and Steven was asked to do a donation shortly after.

(Dates and details about the recipient are kept vague to protect both Steven and the recipient.)

Steven, 28, had a physical and had blood drawn to make sure he was in general good health. He was. After that, he had to take a series of five filgrastim shots to increase the number of blood stem cells in his bloodstream. Steven says he had some back pain from the injections but says it wasn’t awful.

The day before the donation, he and his fiancé, Julie Woodward, drove to the donation site three hours away. The National Marrow Donor Center paid for his mileage, meals, and hotel expenses.

“They put us up at a Marriott,” Steven says. “I felt fancy.”

The donation itself was fairly simple. Blood was withdrawn from Steven’s right arm and sent into a centrifuge machine to remove the stem cells. Then the blood was returned to his left hand through a plastic catheter.

“I watched a movie and read some,” he says. “Actually, the procedure wasn’t bad at all.”

It took about 5 1/2 hours from start to finish. Steven and Julie drove home afterward. He says now he wished he would have stayed another night. It’s common to feel “tired, sore, and achy,” he said.

“I laid there and complained on the way home,” he admits.

But he got some good sleep the next few nights and was able to go back to work that Monday. He is an engineer at the Norfolk Naval Shipyards.

“It was a cool thing to do to help someone out,” he says.

At one year after the procedure, parties can exchange contact information if they wish to meet.

“If I had to do it again, I definitely would,” albeit it after the couple’s wedding on October 2.

Steven is the son of Tommy and Mary Willis Page. He graduated from Salisbury High School in 2011 before heading to UNC-Chapel Hill for college.

“We remain very proud of the selfless young man he has become,” says Mary Willis, herself a cancer survivor. “He is acting as Jesus instructed us to act. What a hero!”

Learn more about stem cell donations at


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