Munster firefighter answers call to donate bone marrow, save a life

2013-07-29T18:30:00Z 2013-07-29T22:09:07Z Munster firefighter answers call to donate bone marrow, save a lifeAnna Ortiz anna.ortiz@nwi.com 219-933-3241 nwitimes.com
July 29, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

MUNSTER | In March, Zach Kosenka received a call that meant he had a chance to save a life. He took it.

Almost four years ago, Kosenka saw an article in The Times about a Hammond firefighter who needed a bone marrow transplant.

Kosenka, a Munster firefighter, registered with the bone marrow registry in hopes to help a fellow firefighter.

He never heard back until this year, when Kosenka found out he was a match for a 69-year-old man who has leukemia.

"I figured if I was a match for the firefighter, I would've done it, no questions asked," Kosenka said. "So why wouldn't I do it for this guy? If I was in his position, I would want someone who had the power to save me to do it."

Though he had no idea who the man is, he knew his age, which was not far off from Kosenka's father's age.

"I figured since he is near my dad's age, he has kids too that would appreciate some extra years with him," Kosenka said.

On July 22, Kosenka went into a two-hour surgery at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis, where five holes were drilled into his hip and bone marrow was taken out.

This week, he is taking it easy to recuperate.

"You're literally saving a life when you donate bone marrow. You may have temporary soreness, but you're helping that person have a healthy life," Kosenka said.

Throughout the process Kosenka reminded himself of just that.

"That's what kept me in check," Kosenka said. "I kept thinking of the potential outcome if I do or don't help him."

Deborah Kosenka, his wife, was worried about him going under the knife, but she supported him through it.

"I've never been more proud in all of my life," Deborah Kosenka said. "I'm so proud about how brave he was for a complete stranger. He's my hero."

"I would like to assume anybody would do the same if they were in my shoes," Kosenka said. "When I look at myself, I just did the right thing. I don't think I'm a hero."

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