University News

WIU alumni Michael Guidotti and Eddie Koelzer
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Leatherneck Match Saves a Life, Renews WIU Pride

September 5, 2018


Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL – There are countless stories of generous Western Illinois University students and graduates who have given selflessly in the spirit of the University's core values.

But for two Leatherneck graduates, brought together by medical necessity and a bit of fate, their story takes WIU pride to a new level.

A few years ago, Michael Guidotti, a 1981 geography graduate and a 1987 recreation, park and tourism administration master's degree graduate, was diagnosed with a form of leukemia that necessitated him receiving a bone marrow transplant. It was during this time that Eddie Koelzer, a 2015 college student personnel graduate, learned that after previously giving a sample for the Be the Match bone marrow registry, he had tentatively matched with someone needing a transplant, who he later learned was Guidotti.

Koelzer said he had his bone marrow extracted in Ohio in 2016, and it was then transported 350 miles to Illinois, where Guidotti's transplant team was waiting.

Transplant guidelines do not allow the donor or recipient to know the identity of one another for one year. After the required time had passed, Guidotti and Koelzer began talking and learned that not only did they have a bone marrow match, but both are Leatherneck alumni.

Since learning of the connection, the two have spoken on the phone numerous times and met once in person.

"When I spoke to him the first time, I told him how grateful I was; I just can't acknowledge how grateful I am to him – I owe him so much," said Guidotti. "I had so many God moments and this was one of those moments where God willed me to get through this."

Guidotti was diagnosed with acute myeloma, which is cancer of the bone marrow. He said he is currently in remission, and his doctors say his prognosis is good and he is back to work with Alzheimer's patients in the Morton, IL, area.

Koelzer, who now works in housing at The Ohio State University, registered for Be the Match through a resident assistant program at that school. WIU previously had a Be the Match chapter on campus, which also resulted in several matches between students and alumni with patients on the national bone marrow registry.

A few months ago, the two men met for lunch in Peoria to talk about their shared experience.

"It was cool to get to know him, and we tentatively plan to get together a few times a year," said Koelzer. "When I donated, I only knew his age range and that he was a male. The fact that we had both graduated from WIU was a really cool coincidence. We talked about the WIU campus and our experiences and how we both really liked it there."

For more information about Be the Match, visit bethematch.org.




Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (JK-Pospeschil@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations