College freshman plans life-changing spring break for man in need of donor

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 10:56 PM

DALLAS – Friends said Ford Yates is either crazy, or just kind.

"I try to be kind through my craziness," said Yates, 19.

He spent the weekend packing for spring break, but the college freshman isn't heading to the beach with fraternity brothers from UT Austin.

He's going to save a stranger's life.

"It's honestly just happened kind of fast,” Yates said. “I've been happier than ever doing it.”

Ford is a bone marrow donor. He signed up to become one at a drive for a family friend last summer with a simple swab in his mouth.

Then, over the holidays, the teenager got an urgent e-mail telling him he was a match for a 63-year-old man fighting leukemia.

"It's pretty scary to tell a 19-year-old that there's a man out there who's counting 100 percent on your bone marrow to save his life," Yates said.

Ford revealed that one influence leading him to the selfless act is his mother, Linda Yates. She is a veteran American Airlines flight attendant who Ford watched facedown and survive breast cancer when he was just a child.

"Well, that was interesting, because we don't talk a lot about that," Linda said.

Still, she’s proud.

"He might forget his weeklong trip at the beach, but he won't forget this experience and having the opportunity to save somebody's life and make a difference," she said.

Ford started taking medication last week, getting shots and prompting his body to produce extra stem cells for this stranger in his 60s.

He donates them on Tuesday while his buddies are at the beach –- quite a generous gesture for a teenager with a lot of life left to live.

Ford returns to UT Austin next Monday, but hopes to one day meet the recipient of his bone marrow.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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