College football player donates bone marrow to save little girl, creates lifelong connection

When 19-year old Central Connecticut State University football player Mike Mushaw was encouraged by his coach to participate in a national bone marrow drive he didn’t hesitate.

And the family of 2-year old Eleanor is happy he did. Eleanor was diagnosed with a severe immune deficiency when she was just months old.

Her mother Jessica says they were devastated when they received the news. 

“It was the most terrifying phone call we received in our lives. A lot of tears were shed,” she said.

Eleanor’s name was added to the National Bone Marrow Registry while she was being treated at Children’s National Hospital in the District. She recalls, as devastating as the first call was with her daughter’s diagnosis, the life-changing call to say they’d found a bone marrow match.

“We understood that not everybody was going to be as fortunate as her to have somebody match with her on the registry,” she recalled. “When we found out that it was a 19-year-old male that was going to donate to her we just cried.”

Eleanor’s family was in awe that someone so young would be so willing to donate.

But donate wasn’t the only thing Mike did as he has stayed in constant contact with the family. He met Eleanor when she was well enough to leave the hospital and Eleanor’s family visited Mike in Connecticut to watch one of his games.

Most recently Mike surprised Eleanor and her family at Children’s National Hospital as she celebrated her birthday and an end to treatment.

The Pay It Forward Crew wanted to celebrate Mike’s selfless act so we, along with Eleanor and her family, recognized him during a Skype interview during Good Day DC. Easterns Automotive Group gave Mike and his team a post season dinner party. They gave Eleanor a subscription to Koala, a kids puzzle service and made a donation of $1,000 in each of their names to the BE THE Match Bone Marrow Registry..

If you know someone who should be featured on Pay It Forward, you can nominate them here. In your email, be sure to include who they are and why they deserve to be recognized.