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MLS Goalie Risks Career to Save a Stranger

DALLAS (WKRC) -- When MLS goalie Chris Seitz found out he could save a stranger's life by donating bone marrow, he didn't hesitate, even if it meant risking his career.

The FC Dallas player got an email asking for help while the 2012 Major League Soccer playoffs were approaching. He had participated in a bone marrow drive four years earlier when the wife of a former teammate was diagnosed with cancer.

That drive had led to a potential match in Erie, Pennsylvania who badly needed a marrow transplant after suffering from leukemia. Philip Richiuso's doctors feared he was close to death because his treatment was failing.

I was on the phone almost crying, thinking that someone else would give their life to someone they didnt know, Richiuso said.

Further testing showed that Seitz was a match, but extracting bone marrow is a painful procedure. It involved a needle poking more than 60 holes in his lower back, and the recovery would take months.

Seitz would have to stop playing soccer in the middle of a contract year, missing the rest of the FC Dallas season.

The decision was simple for Seitz, and he had the support from his coach.

His trainer said, this could be the end of your career. His comment was, I want to save a life more than play soccer, Richiuso said.

It's kind of surreal. You dont know what youre getting into. You listen to the doctors, they tell you everything theyre going to do, Seitz said. I had 52 holes in my lower back. You feel really weak. But its worth it. Youre giving someone a chance to fight and win the battle.

After rehab, Seitz was able to return to the field and continue playing with FC Dallas.

Theres been no residual effects of anything for me, Im back 100 percent and I'm almost even better, he said.

And ever since the transplant, Richiuso has been cancer-free. He's hoping to meet Seitz face-to-face for the first time when FC Dallas plays in Columbus.

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