Jake Kinsley isn’t your typical 22-year-old.
A New York native, Kinsley is a catcher on the Furman University Paladins baseball team. The senior signal-caller is a big fan of Twisted Teas, owns possibly the largest collection of pastel pants on the planet and, oh — did I mention he’s a life-saving bone marrow donor?
Three years ago, Kinsley registered to be a donor at bethematch.org, and on Monday, he made good on his pledge. Even though he knew it would force him to miss significant playing time — and a huge game against regional-rival Clemson — Kinsley elected to donate his marrow to a complete stranger in need of an emergency transplant after discovering he was a perfect match.
TheDC caught up with the unassuming hero on Wednesday and spent several minutes discussing the Daily Caller Patriot’s story:
TheDC: Jake, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate. How are you feeling?
Kinsley: A little tired. Coach [Ron Smith] still wanted to keep me out today. He said I’ll probably be shut down for the next three games.
TheDC: Through the weekend series?
Kinsley: Yeah, we’ve got Virginia Military Institute this weekend. There’s one game on Friday and a double-header on Saturday since it’s Easter Weekend, but it’ll give me some time to catch up on the stuff I missed earlier in the week.
TheDC: Of course. Of course. So let’s jump right into it. How’d this all start?
Kinsley: The fall of my freshman year, Furman’s assistant tennis coach’s cousin needed a bone marrow transplant, so the team set up shop in the student center to sign up donors. Coach Smith had us all go out there to see if anyone was a match for her.
TheDC: All of the freshman?
Kinsley: Ha ha, no. It was the whole team. I wasn’t a match for her, but they kept my information on file and — three years later — I came up as a match for someone else. So, probably about a month and-a-half ago, I got a missed call from a random number and a voice-mail that said I came up as a potential match for a new patient. That just got the ball rolling. I went into the office to do some blood work, and it turned out I was a perfect match.
They set the donation date for March 30, this past Monday. I had a series of injections starting this past Thursday to get the platelets out of my blood and prep my body. They wanted to make the procedure go as seamlessly as possible.
TheDC: Did you receive any flak back from the team? You knew the procedure would sideline you for the Clemson game, and while they aren’t in conference, that’s definitely a big rivalry.
Kinsely: Oh, no way. My teammates have been great about it since the beginning. I mean, they’ve been joking around a little bit. I got to skip out on catching bullpens today, so they were ribbing me about that, but I can deal with that.
TheDC: Ha ha, yeah that’s never a bad thing. Now, you entered this database three years ago. I can’t imagine you had thought about — or, at least until you got that call — donating since that time. Was there any part of you that hesitated to sacrifice yourself for a total stranger?
Kinsley: That never really crossed my mind. As soon as I came up as a match, I knew this was something I had to do. It’s bigger than me, bigger than baseball. I never thought twice about it, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
TheDC: You realize that’s, like, the ultimate “team player metaphor,” right? Is this all just a publicity stunt to motivate the young guys on the team to buy in?
Kinsley: Ha ha ha, it’s nothing like that. My mom and dad just always raised us that way. They’ve got three kids — all Division I athletes — and they taught us that there’s a greater good out there. Playing baseball — or in my brother and sister’s case, lacrosse — is just a means to an end. To serve others and the community.
And, hey. If some of that rubs off on the young-ins, then that’s not a bad thing either.
TheDC: Have you had any contact with the recipient?
Kinsley: No. It’s completely anonymous. I still don’t even know who the recipient is. Because of patient confidentiality, they have to wait a whole year before contacting donors, but I’m definitely looking forward to that point.
TheDC: What’s the one message you want people to walk away with, when they hear your story?
Kinsley: Man. I guess — hopefully — this will just bring light to how donating and saving a life is a lot easier than most assume. If I could make a difference, anyone can. It’s just the right thing to do.
Accept Jake’s challenge. Volunteer to donate at bethematch.org.