More To Live For Documentary review by Jacqueline Monahan

What if your own blood was responsible for slowly killing you? What if someone could save your life if only they knew how? That scenario is real for the three men featured in More To Live For, a documentary highlighting the importance of bone marrow donation as a means to a possible cure.

Seun Adebiyi is a Nigerian-born Olympic hopeful living in the U.S. His sport is the skeleton sled, similar to a luge but ridden face first on one’s stomach; it can reach speeds in excess of 90 mph. Adebiyi is the picture of health as he practices his sport. The 26-year-old has just learned that he has leukemia.

James Chippendale is founder and CEO of CSI Entertainment Insurance, one of the largest entertainment and sports insurance brokers in the country. He lived the good life until he got some bad news. The forty-something entrepreneur was diagnosed with leukemia ten years ago and has turned his ordeal into a mission.

You’ve probably heard Mike Brecker even if you’ve never heard of him. The 15-time Grammy Award winning musician (tenor saxophone) has collaborated with major artists like James Taylor, Paul Simon, George Benson, Quincy Jones, HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steely_Dan” Steely Dan, Lou Reed, Dire Straits, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Aerosmith, Dan Fogelberg, Frank Sinatra, and Bruce Springsteen. Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny appear with Brecker during a recording session, displaying an easy camaraderie with the artist.

During the early 1980s, Brecker was also a member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band. He discovered his leukemia, which started as a lower back pain, in 2004. Concert and music festival footage showcase Brecker’s virtuoso talent. Precious time with his family highlights the private man, both loved and loving.

All three men require bone marrow donation, which, if successful, could essentially mean a cure. The problem is twofold: finding a match for each of the men, and registering/educating the general population to become donors, increasing everyone’s odds.

Bone Marrow is the flexible “Biological tissue” tissue found in the interior of HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone” o “Bone” bones. In humans, marrow in large bones produces new “Blood cell” blood cells. It constitutes 4% of the total body mass of humans, approximately 5.7 lbs. in adults.

Stem cells taken from one person are then infused into another person (allogenic) or into the same person at a later time (autologous). If donor and recipient are compatible, these infused cells will then travel to the bone marrow and initiate healthy blood cell production.

Each of the men raise awareness about the importance of bone marrow donation. Adebiyi travels to Nigeria for a huge registry drive. Chippendale
creates the Love Hope Strength Foundation, and organization that fights cancer – with music – specifically, concerts at high profile locations around the world (Machu Picchu, Mt. Everest base camp, top of the Empire State Building). Brecker begins work on a definitive album entitled Pilgrimage, his battle with cancer covered by major news outlets around the country.

Director Noah Hutton (Crude Independence) intercuts the three stories with interviews, registry drives, concert footage and skeleton races. The marrow donation procedure is explained and simplified. At 24, Hutton (son of Timothy Hutton and Debra Winger) displays a masterful command of his subject matter and finds powerful ways to present it, underscoring the “brother’s keeper” aspect of donation.

Each man’s outcome is different, and personal. The frustration, fear, and desperation are chased by optimism, determination, and a proactive approach that keeps the men busy as they go about the business of finding a compatible donor.

More To Live For educates viewers on exactly how they can help.
Step 1. Register. Step 2. Save a Life.

There’s nothing ordinary about a hero, but a hero can be as ordinary as a crossing guard, a store clerk or a single mom willing to be a bone marrow donor. It’s the results that are extraordinary.

Four and a half Stars

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