Express pitcher returns home to donate bone marrow after rare blood/HLA type match
Express first baseman Casey Zarr gets down to pick the throw after third baseman Geordie McDougall made a diving stop and gunned down Melville’s Tracy Warren (12).(Picture by Randy Palmer)
The Moose Jaw Miller Express bullpen became a little bit smaller earlier this week, as first-year pitcher Casey Zarr decided to return home to Bondurant, Idaho after only a week with the team.
That might sound like extreme homesickness, but in this case it’s anything but.
In fact, the 6-foot-1, 255-pound right hander made the trek back south for the most incredible of reasons.
Zarr, as it turns out, has a very rare blood type. Reported to be O-negative, it’s present in only seven per cent of the population and is known as a universal donor due to it’s compatibility with all types in the ABO profile. More importantly, his human leukocyte antigen, or HLA type, is also extremely unique.
That comes into play when a bone marrow donation is needed -- and Zarr, as it turns out, is a match for someone in desperate need of a transplant.
So, with that, the 23-year-old has returned home to donate bone marrow and save someone’s life.
“He’s gone for a very good reason,” coach Rich Sorenson said with a tone of amazement. “I think it’s a testimony to him… he’s a solid kid and it’s like yeah, how do you say no to that. He’s saving a life and all the power to him.”
The procedure is expected to take three to four weeks to complete and recover from, meaning Zarr will be unlikely to return to the team this season. There could have been a snag over his commitment to the team, but naturally, the Express were quick to let him go.
“We’re very proud of him, and even though he signed a contract, you can’t keep him here with that going on,” Sorenson said. “It does hurt us, but it’s great see something like that happen and someone willing to do something like that, and we wish him the best.”
Zarr had made two starts for the Express, giving up six runs in seven innings of work and striking out three.