Track star quits team to save a stranger's life


(CBS News) University of New Hampshire senior track and field star Cameron Lyle has trained for eight years for his chance at glory at the final two meets of the America East Championships in May. But Lyle -- who calls himself an "average, middle-of-the-road athlete" -- is hanging up his running cleats before the big events.

The 21-year-old shot putter will forgo a shot at victory to save the life of a man he has never met. His sophomore year, Lyle and his teammates submitted mouth swabs to the join the National Bone Marrow Registry, a charitable gesture he completely forgot about until recently.

"I forgot that I was in (the registry) until they called me a couple months ago," Lyle said, "Because they said the odds are so ridiculous."

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, racial and ethnic heritage are important factors in finding a match and patients are most likely to match someone of their own race. Transplant success is most likely when donors are between the ages of 18 and 44.

Registry officials notified Lyle that he was a 100 percent match for a 28-year-old man battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia, with less than six months to live. Lyle believes the odds of such an exact match outside of the family are between one in five million and one in four million, according to Lyle.

"It's just really hard to find a match," he said.

Lyle was to undergo the procedure at Mass General Hospital in Boston Wednesday morning and has high hopes for a successful transplant.

"I hope to give him a shot, a second chance," he said, referring to the anonymous man who will receive his donation.

Lyle's teammates and family have been supportive and UNH track coach Jim Boulanger says he is proud of Lyle, telling CBS News' Michelle Miller, "He's a good man." Boulanger added that another one of his runners -- 800-meter sprinter Catie Perrella -- gave the lifesaving gift of bone marrow three years ago.

Boulanger said, "Something is in our water."