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If you were to mesh together the ideas behind the two sayings “everything happens for a reason” and “things happen when you least expect it,” you might end up with a story similar to one of our users, JC.

JC, a junior in college, has a variety of interests from her Computer Science major to working with organizations like the Red Cross, International Federation of Gymnastics and Relay for Life. She has a strong affinity for organizing fundraisers and giving back. Little did JC know that in line with her interests, StumbleUpon would recommend her a bone marrow donation webpage that would take her passion for charitable acts one step further.

I find the best way to introduce JC’s journey is through her own words, letting her tell you how it began to unfold. One seemingly average Monday morning, this extraordinary note from her passed across my desktop screen:

“Dear StumbleUpon,

I grew up on the web, yet despite that I knew little of it. Short of clicking random links there was no way to fully explore the vast Internet when I was in my childhood. That is, until my friends told me about this service called StumbleUpon which opened the doors to the Internet. My life has changed since then and it may seem melodramatic to you, but let me explain.

On a late December night, I was too tired to go to bed, so I was sucked into an endless series of Stumbles. We’ve all been there. It was mostly the normal Photoshopped images or quirky product sites that are common in my Stumble account, but one site got my attention: http://marrow.org/Join/Join_the_Registry.aspx, the registration page for the ‘Be The Match’ bone marrow registry.

I could think of a million reasons to sign up, all of them nicely outlined on their site, but I couldn’t think of a single reason not to. Every excuse pales when followed by ‘So that’s why you won’t sign up to save someone’s life?’

I registered, my kit came in to give my DNA and I thought that would be the last I would hear from the organization. After all, every story I heard online started with ‘It was years after I signed up when I got the email…’ But the email came within weeks. I was a match! The registry had me give more samples to see if I was the best match and I was. But unfortunately my recipient had a relapse and the order was cancelled. It really hit home just how serious the patient’s situation was and what kind of a difference I could make. I thought that was the only chance I would get, but the very next day another email arrived saying I was a match for yet another recipient. At this point, I’m due to donate in a few weeks.

They tell me that it is unusual for me to have been a match so often and so soon together. I can likely expect to be a match several more times, saving several more lives and keeping several more families from facing the loss of their loved ones. But without StumbleUpon, I wouldn’t have even heard of the registry. Thanks for opening the web for exploration and connecting people in ways that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. I just want you to know that you had a hand in this.”

This week marks a big milestone for the Be The Match Registry as they’ve just reached 10 million registered donors, one of which is now JC. Reading JC’s email and her account of events, I was inspired by how StumbleUpon can change anyone’s life in such a range and magnitude of different ways.

I reached out to JC to follow up with her journey and how her application process had progressed. Unfortunately JC’s recent bone marrow match request was cancelled when her recipient’s aggressive leukemia led her to became too unhealthy to withstand the procedure. In the meantime JC’s tissue has been put into the registry for “additional typing,” meaning she is five times more likely to be selected for donation.

After going through such a roller coaster of events, I asked JC how she was feeling through the process:

“My experience is definitely more emotionally stirring than I expected it to be. You don’t even know the recipient’s name, yet the gravity of their situation really hits home. It’s not just knowing that you can help end the crisis that they and their family are going through or that undoubtedly you have made a positive difference in some stranger’s life. It’s the aspect of making such strong connections across unknown distances to find something remarkable. That aspect is what makes ‘Be The Match’ so amazing and that aspect is intrinsic to StumbleUpon’s mission as well. I love how close the world is getting as technology draws us together and how that unity is used to do extraordinary things.”

Stories like JC’s showcase the unique ability of StumbleUpon to introduce one to an experience that allows them to discover more about themselves and the world around them. For Stumblers inspired by JC’s story, learn more about the Be The Match Registry or join online by visiting BeTheMatch.org. Donors must be between the ages of 18 – 60, willing to donate to any patient in need, and meet health guidelines. You can also show your support by making a contribution to cover the cost for adding each new donor added to the registry (a cost of about $100 per donor).

From the littlest inspiration you may receive from a Stumbled photograph to the most monumental through a site like JC Stumbled, you never know what hidden corner of the Internet StumbleUpon might show you that could change your life.

That, my friends, is serendipity at its finest.

/Sarah profile picture