Student Personifies ‘Pro Humanitate’

gillyard natashaRecently, one of WFU’s online Counseling students took the University motto ‘Pro Humanitate’ to a whole new level. Natasha Gillyard became a bone marrow donor, and saved a human life.  In this photo, Natasha discusses her experience with Dr. Debbie Newsome, departmental faculty member.

When asked why she would undergo such a procedure to benefit a complete stranger, Natasha responded: “I said yes because I empathize with the recipient and their family.  I can only imagine their emotions and what they’ve been through prior to the donation.  How many nights did they stay awake?  How many questions did they ask God, doctors, and/or their family and friends?  I wanted to be a part of the answer.  I’m blessed with good health and I wanted them to be able to fully participate and savor the important things like sunshine and time with family and friends.  I want them to be able to get one step closer to their goals, just like I am.  Lastly, I wanted to give them time to be a part of the world and be a positive impact to those around them by sharing their story.”

Bone marrow donation is a completely voluntary process. The donor agrees to allow doctors to draw blood stem cells from his or her bone marrow, and then transplant those stem cells into the designated recipient. Blood stem cells are the source of the body’s blood cells—the cells form and mature in the bone marrow, and are then released into the bloodstream. Although they’re called “stem cells,” these cells are not the same as the embryonic stem cells studied in therapeutic cloning and other types of research.

Donating bone marrow is considered a surgical procedure, and is usually completed in a hospital setting. All medical costs for the donation procedure are covered by the National Marrow Donor Program, which operates the Be The Match Registry, or by the patient’s medical insurance, including travel expenses and other non-medical costs. The only costs to the donor might be time taken off from work. If you would like more information on marrow donation, or would like to add your name to the list of registered donors, please visit

The Department of Counseling is incredibly proud of Natasha, and applauds her willingness to help a fellow human being.  Natasha is certainly a shining example of Wake Forest University’s motto: ‘Pro Humanitate’!