This writer and filmmaker credits his bone marrow transplant with saving his life and is determined to spread awareness about the importance of being a donor.
July 2014 marked a new chapter in the life of Kevin McDevitt when he married his wife, Stephanie. Exactly three months after their wedding, the couple received the most devastating news that in his own words “rocked our world.” Kevin was diagnosed with two rare blood disorders known as Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and Aplastic Anemia. Both these conditions essentially meant that Kevin’s body had stopped producing new blood cells and that his bone marrow was failing.
Kevin, now in need of a bone marrow transplant, found out that his sister, Meghan, was a match and underwent surgery in March 2015. A few months later, he was strong enough to celebrate his first wedding anniversary with his wife – an anniversary that he was extremely thankful for. Together, the couple penned a parody version of the mega-popular Taylor Swift song, “Bad Blood,” to help raise awareness about bone marrow donations.
Making “Good Blood” with my wife, Stephanie, was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was so invigorating to work on something that I felt so passionate about, and also to have fun with it, and also, just to feel capable of working again after a full year of being in a life-threatening, debilitating emergency, was huge.
Their music video parody has gone viral and also features videos of other patients from all over the country who want to help spread the word about becoming a donor. Their video features the tuneful refrain…Because baby now we’ve got good blood / You know we used to have bad blood / With bone marrow donations / these patients now they’ve got good blood, highlighting the importance of joining the donor registry.
70% of blood cancer and bone marrow failure patients are not so lucky. That’s where Be The Match comes in. They are responsible for connecting transplant patients with the kind and loving souls who’ve volunteered to be their cure.
Robin Roberts, who’s own sister was also her donor, teamed up with Be The Match to bring about awareness to the cause in this 2012 PSA. Kevin has also worked as an advocate for Be The Match through speaking engagements, conferences, and also was the recipient of their 2015 Awareness Award for “Good Blood.”
They so inspire me with their life-saving work, and I hope to do whatever I can, in my lifetime, to promote the bone marrow registry. Only 2% of the eligible US population is on the registry, and we need to get that up to 5%. After all, it’s free, there are no lasting side effects, and if you’re selected as a donor, you get to save a life. I’ve heard from so many donors that the transplant is as big of a gift for the donor as it is for the patient.
This past March, Kevin recently celebrated his one-year transplant anniversary – what he refers to as his new birthday.
We celebrated my new birthday by gathering all of the friends and family who’ve been so helpful and supportive along the way, and having a beautiful afternoon of beer, pretzels, and conversation at a beer garden in Venice Beach. The best part of my new birthday was finding out that a friend of mine got the call from Be The Match, and is going to soon be saving the life of a Leukemia patient. THAT was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.
As his journey to recovery continues, Kevin says that his body feels stronger every month. Strong enough that as self-proclaimed world travelers, Kevin and Stephanie are preparing a summer long road trip up the west coast.
I knew that there was a possibility I might not even come home from the hospital, and I knew I certainly wouldn’t be able to travel for some time. I thought about all of the things we talk about doing, but often don’t follow through on. And I guess I had a bit of leverage, headed into the hospital, because I convinced my wife of this idea: once I made it to one year, we’d spend this summer living out of a VW Bus, driving up the coast to explore our home state of California and the Pacific Northwest.
21.5 miles and 7,000 feet of ascent later, we made it. 13 months after my bone marrow transplant, and 3 days after Stephanie and I set off hiking from Sigchos, the view of Lake Quilotoa from 13,000 feet was pretty damn worth it, I’d say…even if it disappeared beneath the clouds five minutes later.
You can continue to follow Kevin and Stephanie and their adventures on Kevin’s blog and follow him at @CreativSurvivor on Instagram/Twitter. To potentially help save someone’s life please take a moment to join the Be The Match registry.