Brother's bravery sets Amherst teen on quest for marrow
By BENJAMIN C. KLEIN Union Leader Correspondent
AMHERST - A Souhegan High School senior who was deeply affected by his younger brother's battle against cancer has put together a bone marrow drive that will be held at the school on Tuesday night.
Ryan D'Auteuil said that watching his brother, Drew, wait three months for a bone marrow transplant motivated him to try to help as many people as he can.
"Those three months were incredibly stressful. We didn't even know if they could find a match. It was stressful and scary, but we found one in Germany. This man donated to my brother, but I wish it wouldn't take across an ocean to do it. There are long waiting periods. It is a backed up the process, and I don't think that it is as effective as it should be. Not enough people are volunteering," Ryan said.
Souhegan Principal Jon Ingram said he was happy to help Ryan put together the bone marrow drive at the high school.
"Ryan is an outstanding person, and when we found out what he wanted to do, we thought it was a great idea," Ingram said.
Ryan said that without the support of Souhegan staff and mentors, he would not have been able to put together the drive.
Drew, who is now cancer free after suffering from aplastic anemia, will also be at the event, Ryan said.
The drive will be hosted by an organization called Be the Match, and will entail trained professionals swabbing the inside of participants' cheeks so they can determine if they would be match for someone waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
"If you are a match, all you have to do is go in for an outpatient procedure where they make a small incision in your hip and take a bit of marrow out. You're out of the hospital the same day," Ryan said.
Ryan said it is very important that people sign up, because thousands of people die each year waiting for a transplant.
"I want to try to make an impact on that," Ryan said.
Ryan went on to say that Drew has been a huge influence on him, "because there is not a braver kid in New Hampshire."
Ryan said that along with waiting for a transplant, Drew was in and out of the hospital and almost died in 2010.
"Seeing a family member in the ICU clinging to life, I made a commitment to myself that I would never want to see that ever again. It is tough to describe how it changed me. He was so brave, he made me realize we can all do a bit," Ryan said.
Ingram agreed, and said it was important to support students when they embark on important pursuits as Ryan has.
The drive is free and will take place Tuesday, April 16, at 6 p.m. at Souhegan High School. Former New England Patriot and cancer survivor Joe Andruzzi, who is a family friend of the D'Auteuils, will also make an appearance.