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Local hero donates bone marrow to help save child’s life

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RICHMOND, Va. --Anthony Molisani is on the front lines in the fight against cancer.

“It is amazing feeling like you’re that puzzle piece,” says Molisani. “It affects everyone. It seems everyone has a story.”

The 28 year-old cancer researcher is a Ph. D. candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Social and Behavioral Health.

“I’d love to be somebody who can contribute and do his part,” says the New York native.

Anthony is not just talking the talk, he is walking the walk. He is not only dedicating his professional life, but also donating his body to battle cancer.

“I believe you should practice what you preach as well,” says Molisani.

In 2006, while in college, a his fraternity brother’s brother was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Anthony says he and his fraternity wanted to take action.

“We registered to become bone marrow donors.”

Over the years his decision to register faded until last summer when his telephone rang.

“I was in absolute shock when I got that call,” says Anthony.

Anthony was a perfect marrow match for a child living with lymphoma.

The question now? Would Anthony go through with donating his marrow?

“You never expect it to be you,” says Anthony.

The procedure would fall just days before his college reunion in Rochester and a friend’s wedding where he would be best man.

But Anthony was not hesitating. He alone could help save child’s life. The months long undertaking seemed daunting.

“Yeah, It was a four month process.”

Be the Match, the nation’s marrow registry, worked with Anthony.

“I asked them if I could do it in Rochester and they said absolutely,” says Molisani.

Doctors would remove Anthony’s healthy marrow from his pelvic bone.

“I was nervous about it but the process couldn’t have gone smoother.”

Molisani would spend less than 10 hours at the hospital.

“It hurt, but I never even took any pain medication. Not even Advil,” says Molisani.

Anthony was a little sore, but he attended both the wedding and reunion.

“It is an incredible feeling.”

Anthony is earning the respect of his colleagues at VCU.

“This is not something that he talks about but fits very well with his character,” says Anthony’s boss, Dr. Kellie Carlyle. “He is dependable...he helps recruit new students and he elevates his thinking.”

At Be the Match, donors like Anthony, are an inspiration.

“Anthony is a superhero. A real life superhero,” says Dan Gariepy with Be The Match.

Gariepy says becoming a donor and helping save a life is easy.

“This is a therapy that works,” says Gariepy. “It is a simple swab of your cheek to get in. Get in the game.”

Anthony spends his long days researching at his office on Main Street in downtown Richmond. Anthony tries find a cure with his research, but if given the chance to donate his marrow again Anthony says he wouldn’t hesitate.

“If I got a call again and said I was a match again. I know that there is that person that needs my help there is no way I can say “no” to that.”

Anthony has not met the patient who received his marrow. According to Be the Match after one year the contact information is shared between the donor and patient. If everything works out, Anthony will get the chance to meet his match next month.

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