On Tuesday evening just before 7 p.m. ET, ESPN.com senior writer Wayne Drehs reported for Outside the Lines that Major League Soccer goalkeeper Chris Seitz is rehabbing for his return to the pitch just one month after surgery donating bone marrow to a cancer patient. In the piece, accompanied by video shot by the 25-year-old Seitz himself, Drehs writes of the challenges and choices the FC Dallas goalie faced while on his mission to help save a life and spread the word about bone marrow donation. Drehs spoke to Front Row about the story:
How did you first hear of this news about Chris Seitz?
A contact of mine called to tell me about Chris’s story and he asked if I thought it was something we might have an interest in. I had worked with him in the past on a handful of MLS- and soccer-related features and he remembered my 2007 story about organ donor Jason Ray, the University of North Carolina mascot who was killed outside the Tar Heels’ hotel in New Jersey. That story prompted more than 50,000 Americans to register to become organ donors, and Chris was hopeful that telling his story would inspire people to join the bone marrow registry. As soon as I heard about Chris, I was drawn to the story and interested in learning more about why he had made this decision.
The challenge with this piece was the fact that the initial call came less than 48 hours before his procedure. I had to travel on another assignment that day and we couldn’t get a crew to the hospital prior to the procedure. There were also some privacy concerns as DKMS [the German Bone Marrow Center] is very cautious to make sure that the donor and recipient don’t know anything about each other until three months after the procedure is complete. It was Lindsay Rovegno on our video team who had the great idea that Chris shoot a diary for us using his iPhone.
How many interviews did you do before you felt comfortable writing? Was it more or less than an average story?
Every story is different. I don’t think this story was any more or less than normal. Because of my schedule, I wasn’t able to meet Chris until about 10 days after the procedure, but I made sure we talked on the phone regularly before and after his surgery to capture his thoughts, feelings and emotions as they were happening. I spent two days with him in Dallas, met his wife, coaches, teammates and trainer. I went with him to one of his rehab sessions. And we’ve kept in close contact since then.
What are you hoping readers will take away from this piece?
First of all, Chris does not agree with the idea that he is any sort of hero. He thinks the decision he made should be the norm in our society, not the exception. Also, as I said earlier, I know it’s Chris’ hope is that people read the story and decide to join the registry and potentially help those in need of a transplant. That’s his ultimate goal.