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Samantha Mitchell joined the Be the Match registry at a bone marrow drive held at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh, WI, where she was studying microbiology. Little did she know that she that her HLA type was a 100% match for a young boy living in Brazil with leukemia, a boy desperately in need of a bone marrow donation.
Samantha received a call from Be the Match about a month after she joined the registry. Following a blood test and a check-up, she drove the 85 miles to Madison, WI to make a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation. At the time, she had no idea that her stem cells would travel another 5,300 miles to Sao Paulo Brazil to save that young boy living with leukemia.
The process for a PBSC donation is similar to giving blood. For 5 days, the donor receives injections of filgrastim, which increases the number of blood-forming stem cells in the bloodstream. Your blood is then removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that will collect the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through a needle in the other arm.
Samantha says that although she was anxious about the procedure, she felt better knowing that she was directly helping someone.
After the young boy in Brazil received Samantha’s donated cells, his body had complications. He spent almost 2 years in the hospital and his doctors recommended an additional transplant of lymphocytes. Samantha agreed to a second donation without hesitation.
Samantha was finally able to meet the recipient of her cells, Tancrede Bouveret, and his entire family, at the Icla da Silva Foundation’s Hope Gala in New York City on October 18, 2017. You can read about Tancrede’s story here.
Samantha’s Mitchell’s act of giving was selfless. The fact that she gave twice (a rare occurrence), makes her remarkable. We are grateful that she joined the registry and we are thankful that she had the commitment to save a life. Today Samantha continues to live her life, has graduated from university, and is now working at the same hospital where she donated bone marrow. Her story has come full circle.
You can potentially save the life of someone suffering from a blood cancer by clicking here and joining the registry.
American Boy Returns from Brazil to Meet His Life-Saving Bone Marrow Donor
New York (October 4, 2017) – The Icla da Silva Foundation will hold its annual Hope Gala – a fundraising benefit to support patients in need of a bone marrow transplant – on October 18, at Guastavino’s in New York City. This year’s Gala celebrates 25 years of the organization saving lives.
At the celebration, Tancrede Bouveret, a 13 year-old American boy and former leukemia patient, will meet for the very first time the bone marrow donor who saved his life. Tancrede, born in California and living in Brazil, developed Myelodysplasia Syndrome (MDS) in 2015, and was told by doctors that he would need a bone marrow transplant to survive. Without a match in their family, they made a plea to the public to help them find a matching marrow donor.
Tancrede’s two fathers were able to gain the support of the local community, and his story caught the attention of Brazilian celebrities, including renowned footballers Kaka and Neymar. The family’s prayers were answered in July 2015, when he received a marrow transplant from a young woman from Madison, Wisconsin. It was The Icla da Silva Foundation that initiated the donor search in the United States that resulted in the match. The two have waited over a year to meet for the very first time at the Icla da Silva Hope Gala.
The The Icla da Silva Foundation has been responsible for the registration of over 500,000 potentially life-saving bone marrow donors. Since inception, the Foundation has facilitated more than 600 bone marrow transplants and assisted over 2,000 patients and their families with emotional, logistical and financial support.
At the Hope Gala, the Foundation will honor Dr. Jeffrey Chell, CEO Emeritus of Be The Match, with the Legacy of Hope Award, and East River Medical Imaging, a medical diagnostic imaging center based in New York City, with the Healthcare Leadership Award for their support of the Foundation and dedication to better healthcare.
This year’s Hope Gala is co-chaired by Tânae and Claudio Braz Ferro, and Renata and Claudio Garcia. Both Mr. Ferro and Mr. Garcia are executive leaders from AB Inbev.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
6:30PM | Cocktail Reception and Silent Auction
7:30 | Dinner and Dancing
Black Tie Optional
Click here to find more information, make a donation, and RSVP
409 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
About Icla da Silva
The mission of the Icla da Silva Foundation is to save lives by recruiting bone marrow donors and providing support services to children and adults with leukemia and other diseases treatable by marrow transplants. The Foundation was created in memory of a 13-year-old Brazilian girl named Icla da Silva. After two years of fighting leukemia, Icla passed away in New York City, where she came hoping to receive a necessary life-saving treatment: a bone marrow transplant. The young girl never found a matching donor. The Icla da Silva Foundation is 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Recent Patient Stories
Early morning traffic on the speedway is already in full swing and the Miami summer sunshine radiates on the tarmac, bouncing onto the palm trees that line the streets. Nearby mangrove forests are teeming with life as the birds greet another spectacular sunrise on the East Coast. Beautiful golden rays illuminate today’s gift: more time.
Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and Donatello, four pizza-loving turtle heroes, are rumored to live in the sewers around here; at least in the active imagination of this fun-loving five-year-old. As another balmy day sets in for the small community of Homestead, Florida, Julian Morales and his amazing family make their way towards another busy day. For chocolate ice cream-loving Julian, Florida’s summer afternoon heat should be the perfect excuse to ask Mom for a cold treat to tingle the taste buds. Will the cheeky smile which makes his eyes sparkle do the trick?
Julian has spent most of his five years in this sunny paradise; with his Mom, Mayra, and his Dad, Dany. He has a wonderful relationship with his doting parents and thinks of his sister, Bella, as one of his best friends in the whole wide world. Perhaps there are no masked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sporting nunchucks, katanas or a bo staff around here after all; but for little Julian Morales there are plenty of other heroes on the move around the city.
Unlike his peers, Julian’s first five years have been tough. It has been an emotional roller coaster for his dedicated parents as a search for a diagnosis of Julian’s condition has gathered momentum. Together with a supportive church and community, the journey has taken the family through a number of trying obstacles.
Finally, after a year of extensive visits to various health professionals, it was advised the family take a trip up to Boston. Here the brilliant specialists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts were able to confirm the diagnosis as a rare condition called Dyskeratosis Congenita (DKC). This is a bone marrow failure disorder and results in low red or white blood cell counts, low platelet levels or a mixture of these three conditions.
Julian cannot attend school for the foreseeable future as his strained immune system is severely compromised. Instead, he spends time at home with the family he loves; learning, reading and playing the way most children his age love to do. He also adores his church community at Christ Fellowship, Miami. Check out his awesome puppet show about Adam, Eve and the snake-snake-snake here.
A bone marrow match would enable his doctors to cure his blood condition, the first step towards dealing with the Dyskeratosis Congenita itself. Ancestry and genetics determine the protein mixtures in the blood. Unfortunately, since Julian is of both Mexican and Nicaraguan descent, neither of his parents presents as a perfect bone marrow match. A consolation for Julian, however, is that his condition was diagnosed a little earlier than most, immediately kicking off the search for a suitable donor.
The Morales family teamed up with Malena Laughlin of the Icla da Silva Foundation on an urgent quest to find a bone marrow donor for Julian. Being the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match Registry in the United States, the Icla da Silva Foundation is dedicated to helping people like Julian. In fact, people of mixed heritage are a top priority for the foundation, since these patients only have access to a limited genetic pool of volunteer marrow donors in the bone marrow registry.
To date, there have been 96 Bone Marrow Drives to find a match for Julian, which resulted in an impressive count of 1100 potential donors. The perfect match for Julian is yet to be found, however, and his team stands by him, persevering in hope. Until a suitable match is discovered, the family needs to regularly travel up to specialists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.
Despite the fact Julian’s perfect bone marrow match is still to be found, the Bone Marrow Drives miraculously provided matches for a number of other bone marrow patients along the way. The time and effort of a dedicated family and community team, together with the Icla da Silva Foundation, is never wasted. Would you consider registering to become a bone marrow donor for Julian and others like him? The process is simple and the procedure is painless.
Follow Julian’s story on his Facebook page for further updates on the Morales family’s search for a match. As Julian’s illness progresses, complications will increase. Julian needs a donor as soon as possible. Please help us make a difference for Julian and his family.
If is it not possible for you to become a bone marrow donor, the Morales family has set up a GoFundMe account. Any and all contributions to the fund are welcome. These generous donations support Julian’s numerous medical trips to Boston and his ongoing medical expenses not covered by insurance.