RIPLEY, W.Va. — Zack Tennant has brought health care delivery by pharmacists to another level.
The 30-year-old Tennant, who has worked at the Fruth Pharmacy store here for about six years, traveled to the Ohio State University cancer center last year to donate bone marrow. He had to get drug injections in the weeks beforehand and then lay in a hospital bed for some five hours for the donation.
“We’re always called to serve others in this field,” says Tennant, who has had no ill effects from the process. “You always look to provide care to somebody, and this was another avenue to be able to do that.”
Tennant was first alerted to the need for a donation by a pharmacy technician at Fruth, Lacrissa Jones, who told him about a friend in need of a marrow transplant. He went to the website bethematch.org to learn about becoming a candidate. The initial steps involved answering a few questions and getting a kit in the mail with cheek swabs that had to be mailed back. Tennant was on board.
The likelihood of an individual applicant being a match for someone in need of a transplant is one in 500, so when Tennant got word that he would make a suitable donor, it came as a huge surprise. The surprise, he says, was a pleasant one. “It was a blessing to be able to move forward and help somebody out.”
Upon learning about the preparation for a donation, he adds that he never hesitated. “I might have been the only person who could help in this case, so of course I was going to do what I could.”
He was given shots of Neupogen, which stimulates stem cell growth, and was monitored to ensure he didn’t have a reaction. The actual process of providing marrow, called a peripheral blood stem cell donation, was virtually pain-free. Blood was taken out of one arm, the stem cells were separated out, and the blood was returned through the other arm.
Coincidentally, the donation was scheduled for May 5, Tennant’s second wedding anniversary. He says his wife, Jordan, had been fully behind his decision to be a donor and had no qualms with his spending their anniversary in a hospital. This summer the couple are expecting their first child.
That kind of reaction has since extended to Fruth customers. “A lot of customers and people I didn’t even know have reached out to thank me,” says Tennant. “That’s meant a lot to me.”
At the same time, he says, what’s more important for him is getting the word out that bone marrow donations are possible for people who are interested. “I want to raise awareness of the need,” he comments, noting that the Be the Match program provided tremendous logistical support.
And Fruth’s management has been behind Tennant both before and after the donation, expressing a willingness to change his schedule to accommodate the preparation and donation.
Lynne Fruth, president and chairman of the company, calls Tennant “a great young man and a wonderful billboard for the ‘heart of a pharmacist.’ ”