Highlight of the year: The Gift of Life… (Please Pass This On)

We have had a GREAT winter and spring thus far, supporting clients all over the globe, shooting in some pretty incredible locations… but business and life have been busier than ever.  As I look back on all the achievements, opportunities and folks we’ve worked with… I realize that this is the very first year in the past four years that I wasn’t  absolutely consumed with thoughts of my sister’s cancer, her bone marrow transplant and the messy logistics that goes along with all of that.

My sister’s improved health has been the result of tenacious determination, an indefatigable spirit, a talented team of caregivers… and most importantly, the selfless, incredible gift from her anonymous bone marrow donor.

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to actually meet my sister’s bone marrow donor.  Her donor’s name is Tammy, she’s about my sister’s age, and we had dinner together along with her fabulous husband Chris just before I flew out for another photo shoot.  Meeting Tammy and Chris was one of the most surreal moments of my life.  I was giddy with excitement, bubbling over with emotion (READ: tears)… and challenged to fully express my sense of gratitude for her sacrifice, and for the lifetime of pain she had spared Lea and everyone in our family.  As much as I wanted to know all about her and Chris, she wanted to know all about Lea and the process from the patient’s side.  We talked for hours sharing our experiences.

Brian Wedge Bone Marrow Blog

With The Heroes: Chris and Tammy on the left (and me)

I spent most of the night thanking them both for their efforts, for their selfless gifts, and for THEIR determination to see this process through.  Tammy and Chris had a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to help someone that they didn’t even know… and they took it.

Some call it Providence, some call it karma… others call it dumb luck.  Whatever it was, we were very fortunate to find a donor at all… never mind someone like Tammy who was a perfect match, and who was so willing to give so much.

As we left the restaurant that night, I told (yelled at) every person we saw that “This woman saved my sister’s life.”  I know it embarrassed Tammy, but it is the absolute truth… and it’s something not only to celebrate, but also aspire to.  What if we ALL stepped up to the plate for someone we didn’t know?  What if we were all willing to give of ourselves so that someone else may live?  If you had the opportunity, would you?

VIDEO: How to register / get tested

Getting tested for bone marrow is easy… it literally just involves swabbing your cheek with a Q-Tip and it’s FREE (optional donation to cover costs accepted but not required).  Here’s how to sign up:


You might never be a match, but if you are… wow, you’re in the position to save someone’s life!!  You’re not donating a kidney or a lung now… so get that whole gory, life altering concept out of your head right off the bat.  The act of bone marrow donation can take on one of two different forms, but 70% of all donations are taken in a procedure very similar to the simple act of donating blood.  The cold hard truth though is that every year 35,000 people need a donor and only 3800 will find one.  Bottom line: we need more people involved and you could be that one!

A great video that explains what the actual donation process is here:

Our lives are forever changed by Tammy’s gift.  Her generosity has inspired so many… and I hope it inspires YOU and those around you.  Thank you Tammy!!!

If you would like to thank Tammy for her donation in the comments section below, have at it!

If she inspires you to register, or get friends/family registered let us know… and by all means pass this blog post on!

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  • May 28, 2009 - 4:13 pm

    Heather Leonardo - Brian,
    Your photos are incredible and you have such talent but the picture of you, Chris, and Tammy is priceless. I was crying reading your post. What an amazing gift Tammy provided. Those of us who know and love Lea (and your family) are forever greatful for her gift. Here’s to all of you that have been on the journey with Lea.

  • May 28, 2009 - 7:47 pm

    kate bussell - I signed up to become a donor a few months back! It felt pretty cool to enter myself into the databank, knowing I could maybe help somebody. Thanks for sharing your story Bri!


  • May 29, 2009 - 12:22 pm

    Jill - Fabulous Brian, thank you for sharing! I hope this inspires more people to become donors. It is a truly amazing gift to give someone. Lea has taught us all so much over the years and Tammy is a true rock star!ReplyCancel

  • May 29, 2009 - 12:34 pm

    Perry - Brian,
    Thank you for such a touching post. You have been an amazing brother to Lea over the years. I know she has felt so grateful to have you as such a rock.

    You have no idea how many people’s life you touched by donating marrow to Lea. She is such a joy to be around and I hope you can meet her before long to understand the joy everyone describes when they talk about her as a friend. You probably got a sense of the Wedge spirit by meeting Brian.
    Thank you!

    It is exciting to know I am in the bone marrow database. It certainly was painless, just cotton swabs on your cheek. Come to think of it, I think I’ll login and make sure they have my current contact information.ReplyCancel

  • May 29, 2009 - 1:27 pm

    Jenn - Brian-

    I am so glad that you had the opportunity to meet Tammy and to thank her for all of us that are soooo grateful that she was a match and was willing to give this gift to Lea. You, your family and of course Lea have been an inspiration to all of us!!!!!

    Tammy – I can not thank you enough for the gift that you have given to Lea and to all of us that know her and love her!


  • May 29, 2009 - 4:20 pm

    Annie - Dear Tammy

    There is no way to say “Thank You” enough for saving Lea’s life….. You really are one amazing lady who will always live deep in my heart, just as Lea does.

    Love and light

  • May 29, 2009 - 9:14 pm

    Sandy Zimmerman - Dear Tammy,

    Although Lea and I have never met, I would like to thank you for the gift of life.

    You see, my 12 year old daughter, Emily, is a leukemia patient. She finished her treatment in December of 2007. She is doing very well. We met Lea through Erin Zammett-Ruddy at Glamour Magazine (haven’t met her either). Lea and I have been “Cyber Sisters” for a few years now.

    Thank you for taking the time to get prepared, get tested, and to donate.

    -Sandy Zimmerman, MarylandReplyCancel

  • October 11, 2010 - 11:53 am

    Fireflies Ride 2010: San Francisco to LA in 6 days by bike | Brian Wedge Photography Blog - […]  It breaks my heart to see people literally dying, because the public doesn’t realize how EASY and FREE registration and donation is.  You can go HERE for the link to all the information, and the FREE registration […]ReplyCancel

  • May 15, 2011 - 12:49 pm

    The Fireflies Ride: Geneva to Cannes via the French Alps | Brian Wedge Photography Blog - […] up.  It breaks my heart to see people literally dying, because the public doesn’t realize how EASY and FREE registration and donation is.  You can go HERE for the link to all the information, and the FREE registration […]ReplyCancel

  • September 21, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    Fireflies West: For Those Who Suffer We Ride | Brian Wedge Photography Blog - […] dying without a proper donor match… often because the public just doesn’t realize how EASY and FREE registration and donation is.  You can go HERE for the link to all the information, and the FREE […]ReplyCancel

  • September 30, 2012 - 5:19 pm

    Thank You. | Brian Wedge Photography Blog - […] like to learn more about how I met the complete stranger who saved my sister’s life… please check it out via this link (or click on the photo below).  There are videos on that post that explain the registration process in detail, and the donation […]ReplyCancel

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