Matt Szczur Already a Hit as a Donor

News Sentinel, August 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

Matt Szczur Already a Hit as a Donor


SEVIERVILLE -- Tennessee Smokies outfielder Matt Szczur opened the season as the No. 3 prospect in the Chicago Cubs' organization. Three years ago, the then-college junior was the No. 1 prospect for a 13-month old baby girl with leukemia.

Szczur was a legitimate 2-sport star at Villanova University, helping the Wildcats win the 2009 NCAA Division I FCS National Championship as a wide receiver. While his teammates were celebrating their victory, Szczur was preparing for something more important.

Villanova football coach Andy Talley began a program in 1992 requiring all his freshman football players to be tested for compatibility for bone marrow donations. Szczur had a 1-in-80,000 chance to be a match. In September of his junior season, he got the news that he was that "one." To donate, Szczur would have to miss three weekends in baseball. At least 10 games.

"That was my junior season, when you really have to play your best so you can show the scouts what you can do," Szczur said. "So you can get the most money you can. But there was no way I wouldn't do it (donate). It was well worth it."

So Szczur began taking a drug called Neupogen to help his body produce more white blood cells. It also enlarged his spleen

and produced multiple body aches.

"If I made a quick movement it felt like my muscles were going to tear," Szczur said. "It cramped me up and gave me a lot of bone pain."

Szczur got a little karmic boost before going in for the procedure. In his last at-bat in his final game before donating, he hit a home run. …

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