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Shaheen honors UNH student for unselfish donation

Cameron Lyle and Jean Shaheen in Durham.

Cameron Lyle and Jean Shaheen in Durham.

The University of New Hampshire track star who ended his career so he could donate bone marrow to a stranger suffering from leukemia was honored Friday by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Cameron Lyle of Plaistow, who was featured last month by the Monitor as well as national media outlets, was presented with a statement submitted to the congressional record for his “tremendous selflessness and compassion,” Shaheen said.

“Cameron’s decision to forego his senior season to help better the life of someone he has never known demonstrates the strength of character of a wonderful young man,” Shaheen said in a press released. “His story is an inspiration to us all and a great reminder of what is truly important. Cameron represents the very best of the Granite State and has made all of New Hampshire proud.”

Lyle, who excelled in the hammer throw and shot put during his four-year career, registered for the National Marrow Donor Program more than two years ago, then forgot all about it. But when the call came this winter that he matched a 28-year-old man suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Lyle retired from track, leaving behind the three most prestigious meets of the season and the final three of his senior year.

He donated his marrow during a procedure April 24 in Boston.

The odds of matching someone vary, depending on hereditary background, but one in several million often is not out of the question. Lyle said he was told the chances of a nonfamily member matching this leukemia patient were one in four or five million.

“They said I’d probably never get a call because the odds are ridiculous,” Lyle said at the time. “That’s why I was shocked when I got a call, but I said yes right away because they told me the odds, and I thought absolutely that I had to do it.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

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