Cancer Patient Learns Anonymous Bone Marrow Donor Is NFL Player, Meets Him After Superbowl


A Kansas City man received a life-saving stem cell transplant in 2016 and finally got to meet his bone marrow donor two years later at the Super Bowl.

Roy Coe had been battling non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma since 2012 until an anonymous donor stepped in to save his life.

The National Marrow Donor Program does not allow its recipients and donors to meet until two years after the transplant, but Coe was not expecting his donor to be an NFL player, WNEP reported.

“The transplant coordinator there at the clinic asked me, ‘Hey, you have a chance to meet your donor if you want,'” Coe said. “He said, ‘You also have a chance to go to the Super Bowl.’ I thought it was a scam at first.”

New Orleans Saints rookie wide receiver Austin Carr donated the bone marrow for Coe’s treatment in 2015 when he was still playing college football at Northwestern. Being a donor was as easy as “a swab of your cheek,” according to the wide receiver, but actually being a match is a little more complicated.

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“(Being a match) meant I would have to sit out of a couple weeks of spring ball and a couple weeks of workouts,” Carr said on the New Orleans Saints website. “I had to speak with my coach and with my family and count the cost of missing that because who knows what can happen with the depth chart in that time. After some thought, I knew it was the right thing to do.”

Although the bone marrow donation could put his future football career on the line, Carr still went through with it.

Would you consider being a bone marrow donor?

“I’m a Christian and Jesus says to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ so I really take that seriously,” he said. “No one is perfect at it but I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to do that.”

The donor and the recipient finally met last Wednesday in Minnesota when Carr was able to give Super Bowl tickets provided by the Saints to Coe and his girlfriend, Linda Baur.

“I was going to shake his hand, but also I knew at the time, it was going to end up being a lot more than that,” Coe said. Photos show the two hugging like old friends.

Baur told WNEP that Coe had waited for years for specialists to find a bone marrow match, and chances were looking glim until Carr donated.

“When you’re given a diagnosis and told you’re not going to live, but there’s a treatment that could possibly extend it, then yes, you have to jump on it, and you have to rely on people who are willing to donate,” Baur said.

Carr recounted the meeting on the Saints website. “You get emotional, especially right beforehand. I was just excited to finally put a face and a name to somebody I knew had been so affected by me. Not even who I am but just what I was able to do for him by giving him more time on this earth. Obviously, during the meeting was amazing as well.”

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“Probably the best part was my wife and his girlfriend talking, crying and hugging it out,” Carr said. “I don’t think he or I cried or got too emotional, it was kind of joyfulness for us. But seeing our ladies connect and thank each other and talk was amazing.”

Coe told WNEP that his family has a history of cancer, and if it were not for Carr’s generosity he feared he could have died the same way as his loved ones.

“Thanks to this guy, I got a chance to irritate my grandkids for a little while longer,” Coe said.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith