BUENOS AIRES, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Former Argentina international full-back Cristian Villagra will take time off football to donate bone marrow to his brother Gonzalo, who his battling leukemia.
Villagra, who plays for Atletico Tucuman in Argentina's top division, said he didn't think twice about the operation after learning he was compatible with his 24-year-old sibling.
"I am the only compatible family member," the 32-year-old told Argentine radio station El Deportivo 12.
"I've been doing research for three or four months. You never think you would go through one of these situations.
"I will try to help him as much as possible. As a donor it fills me with pride and makes me feel very good. It is difficult to ignore the issue of my brother's illness. It affects me being a close relative and it's not easy, everyone in the club knows that."
The operation is likely keep Villagra on the sidelines until early March.
The defender, capped once for Argentina's national team, said he was grateful for the backing of Atletico Tucuman, who showed their support on social media.
"We wish our player Cristian Villagra and his family strength in this difficult time," the club said on Twitter. "His decision is an example to us all and shows his generosity. The whole team and its supporters are with you!"