Saving lives is in TCOM student’s blood

By Steven Bartolotta

Ann Hollas

A desire to save lives runs in Ann Hollas’ blood. Her father is a family physician, her brother attends medical school, she began her first year at TCOM in July – and what’s in her blood that is saving a life now 

The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine student learned she was a bone marrow match with a six-year-old boy battling leukemia. Hollas, who signed up with “Be The Match” as a college freshman, did not hesitate and quickly donated her peripheral blood stem cells in May.  

I was mostly excited,” Hollas said. “I really remembered from the first phone call is that I may have an opportunity to help save a six-year old’s life. None of the negative side effects or uncertainties even registered with me in that moment.” 

Hollas was a phenomenal athlete at Stephen F. Austin, where she was a two-time Academic All-American and three-time Southland Conference All-Academic selection. It was volunteer work at SFA that acquainted her with the “Be The Match” program. 

Each year, student-athletes at SFA were in charge of a “Be The Match” tent on campus for a week,” Hollas said. “I volunteered to work it and signed up myself in the process. A simple cheek swab for a chance to save a life… who could beat that?” 

The National Marrow Donor Program has over 16 million individuals registered from around the world. A seemingly large number, but the statistics say only 1 out of every 430 individuals in the registry will ever donate, and the need for more donors is growing.  

Blood cancers cause 68,000 deaths a year, and an estimated 175,000 people will be diagnosed with a blood cancer each year. Hollas was always hopeful the call would come, and in May it did.  

“Of course I had no idea that I would be able to help someone in this way, but I am blessed that I was able to contribute and now I can even be an advocate for “Be The Match” she said. “I’m striving for a career in medicine for this reason exactly, to impact lives in a positive manner and to inspire others to do the same. I want there to not only be change in this world, but I want to be a part of it, and I want to help others want to be a part of it, too. 

For privacy reasons, Hollas knows that her marrow went to a boy with Leukemia who lives in the United States. A possibly meeting with the family and little boy could happen after nine months, but he’s always on her mind.  

“On the day of my donation, I gave the staff a card to mail to the boy,” Hollas said. “I wished him luck and told him I’d be praying for him and his family, which I continue to do every day.”  

To learn more about how you can register visit www.bethematch.org

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