AEP Line Mechanic Donates Bone Marrow to Young Boy
July 2020

Before he was an AEP Ohio line mechanic, Cody Grilliot was a linebacker on the Ohio University football team. During his time there, one of his coaches – who had leukemia – gave a speech about the lifesaving potential of joining the Gift of Life bone marrow and stem cell registry. Grilliot filled out the required paperwork, got his mouth swabbed, and, after graduating in 2017, largely forgot about it.

Earlier this year, Grilliot received a message from Gift of Life about a match with an 11-year-old boy. Only 30 percent of blood cancer patients find a matching donor from family members, so the other 70 percent rely on donors from the registry. Finding a suitable donor is like finding a needle in a haystack due to the complexity of DNA and tissue typing.

Grilliot was excited by the promise of helping and felt duty-bound because of his youth and good health. Nevertheless, he was anxious about going through with it.

“At first I was a little leery because I was unfamiliar with the whole process,” said Grilliot. “I was also in the process of buying a house, I just started working at AEP Ohio, and this was all in the middle of COVID. I was very stressed out just getting the paperwork signed.”

Grilliot has been with AEP Ohio less than a year, and, already, his teammates are getting a glimpse of his strong character.

“Cody is top-notch. He’s an all-around good dude,” said Josh Hultgren, Grilliot’s manager. “He’s a stand-up type of guy and the crew really likes him. He cares about people; he cares about his job; he cares about doing the right thing.”

Privacy laws around the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevent Grilliot from meeting the boy for at least one year, but he already is looking forward to the day and wants other people to consider a similar sacrifice.

“If you’re healthy and of the right age, I highly encourage people to think about it,” said Grilliot. “These kids don’t have a family match. They really rely on these donations. It might be a little uncomfortable, but the fact of the matter is you really are saving lives. It’s the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. By far.”

Grilliot said he was under anesthesia during the operation, so it was relatively quickly and painless, although he was sore for about a week.

About 175,000 people are diagnosed with the three main types of blood cancer each year: Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma. There are many ways to join in the fight, but one way is by following Grilliot’s example of getting swabbed and joining the donor registry. 

Visit giftoflife.org/register​ for more information.

Read the original story here.