Tuesday was a big day for Miami Dolphins offensive linemen with pads coming on for the first in the 2021 training camp.
The practice Wednesday will have special meaning again for tackle Austin Jackson — for an entirely different reason.
It has nothing to do with football, but rather involves the opportunity to become a donor and help save someone's life much like Jackson did for his sister, Autumn, in 2019 — less than a year before he became a first-round pick.
Be The Match will be a part of Football Unites Day at Dolphins training camp Wednesday and upon arriving at the Baptist Health Training Complex, fans will be encouraged to join the organization's national registry.
Jackson explained the significance of the event for him after practice Tuesday.
“Yeah, so about two years ago I became a donor for my younger sister, who has Diamond-Blackfan anemia, which is a rare blood disorder," Jackson said. "Like a lot of kids with blood cancers, blood disorders and any type of anemias, their condition worsens as they get older. So about two years ago, I became a bone marrow transplant donor for my little sister, and I entered what Be The Match has, which is called the registry, where you sign up and get in the registry to become a donor.
"Tomorrow we’re having a truck come out and I want to encourage more people to donate. There’s a 30 percent chance that a minority would get a donor if they don’t immediately match with one of their siblings versus an 85 percent chance success rate that a majority person would get a donor if they don’t match in their family.
"Really, I just want to start getting the word out and talking about it. I went through it in the middle of a football season and came back and still had a great season. It’s not as bad as you think and it’s such an easy way to save a life. So easy.”
Jackson was happy to report that his sister now is "doing great."
"She’s made a full recovery," Austin said. "She went from going to the doctor like once every two weeks to like never, so that’s great. She’s not the only one, though. There are a lot more kids like that, and that’s why I really want to help those kids, too, by getting the word out.”
And as an NFL player heading into his second season in the league, Jackson is grateful for having the platform to bring awareness to bone marrow donation.
"I’m blessed beyond belief in these last couple of years and I’m really thankful," he said. "I’m a man of faith, if you can’t tell already. I’m really thankful and I’m going to do my best to keep getting the word out there and let everybody know.”
About Be The Match
For people with life-threatening blood cancers — like leukemia and lymphoma — or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant.
Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research through its research program, CIBMTR (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research), so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.