March 09, 2009
After his brother donated his bone marrow to help a young
Professor Thomas Philipose, decided to do the same during a St.
John’s University blood donor drive in 2003. Five years later, the
marrow he donated will forever make a difference in the life of one
young boy with leukemia.
Tom Philipose, an English professor and Associate Director for St.
John’s Queens Writing Center, was encouraged to register as a bone
marrow donor by his brother, who joined the donor list in the late
1990s. He later discovered the significance of his contribution due
to a universal lack of minority organ donations. His
commitment to the University’s Vincentian mission and his quest to
make a difference in the lives of others contributed to his
decision to become a bone marrow donor.
“At the time my brother Joe informed me there weren’t many
minorities on the donors list and that people were dying because
they were not educated about organ and blood donation,” Philipose
says. “That statistic holds true today, over a decade later, and
people still don’t know—I knew I had to do this.”
Giving the Gift of Life
Each year four million Americans benefit from blood transfusions,
while one in four people will require some type of life-saving
transfusion in their lifetime. With these alarming statistics, St.
John’s University in partnership with the New York Blood Center
(NYBC) continues to promote the need for organ and blood
donors—especially among ethnic groups—to the University’s diverse
population and hosts frequent blood and organ drives on its
“We are proud of our employees’ and students’ ongoing commitment to
give blood and to register to donate bone marrow,” says St. John’s
Community Relations Associate Kevin J. Ryan, J.D. “This is a
wonderful story that speaks directly to the heart of our Vincentian
mission. At each donor drive, I am amazed to see students and staff
using their break time to give blood—but that’s St. John's
According to Professor Philipose, due to the rarity in finding a
non-related match, he was surprised in mid-December to receive the
news from the New York Blood Center that he was a match with a
child overseas who was suffering from leukemia (a malignant disease
known as cancer of the bone marrow and blood).
“I was told by the doctors that they couldn’t remember another case
where two siblings were matched to non-related recipients,” he
adds. “I’ve lost family members to cancer and in those cases, I
didn’t hear of a situation that could have saved them—I just wish
there was more that people could do to help each other.”
St. John’s Office of Community Relations will continue to partner
with the New York Blood Center at a special blood/bone marrow
registration drive on Monday, April 20th in Taffner Field House on
the Queens campus. The drive is open to members of the University
community who are interested in helping to make a difference one
donation at a time.
Summing up his experience as a bone marrow donor, Professor
Philipose says, “This was a no-brainer for me and the process was
not as daunting as I originally thought. I believe in giving blood
whenever you can. If people knew about this, and how easy it
can be, the next family might not lose a child. I would do this
again as many times as I need to—after all, what is worth more than
the ability to save someone’s life?”
For more information on University blood drives and bone marrow
testing, contact the Office of Community Relations at 718-990-1941
or visit www.stjohns.edu/blooddrives.