By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – Jeff Wagner wouldn’t be alive without Josef Feuerecker.
Wagner was dealt with a life-threatening situation years ago when he was diagnosed with leukemia and needed the help of a bone marrow donor that he received in 2007. Seven years prior to that, Feuerecker, who lives in Germany, was trying to save another person’s life when he registered for a process that’s quite simple.
“It’s a matter of just going to one of these swab camps, filling out some paperwork and having your mouth swabbed,” Wagner said.
Feuerecker’s name came up in the registry when Wagner was desperate for a donor and more simple procedures helped a bleak situation turn into a bright, new beginning for the USF alumnus.
“If he hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have lived to see Christmas that year,” Wagner said.
Wagner will be forever grateful to Feuerecker and he finally gets to show his appreciation in person starting Tuesday when Feuerecker and his wife, Maria, visit the United States for the first time.
“We’re having a meeting now five years later, which is really exciting to me,” Wagner said.
Wagner has more than a week of special events planned for Feuerecker’s visit, including the “Always Finish Strong” Donor Drive that takes place Tuesday, Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at three sites on USF’s Tampa campus – the Marshall Student Center, College of Public Health and Moffitt Cancer Center.
“We’re going after the 18- to 44-year old age group. Anybody can be called on to simply save a life,” Wagner said.
The donor drive is associated with Be The Match Foundation, the national marrow donor program that helps patients get the transplants they need. Participants in next Tuesday’s donor drive will complete the 5- to 15-minute process that will get them into the registry and perhaps one day add to the success stories of the great cause.
“If months or years from now they do have a chance to save somebody’s life, it is a rather painless process, unlike it was years ago,” Wagner said. “It’s almost like giving blood or being away from the office or school for a couple of hours. That’s about all it takes.”