Two Cancer Patients Meet Their Life-Saving Bone Marrow Donors
The Icla da Silva 27th Hope Gala occurred recently in NYC. It was a wonderful evening spent reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. The cocktail hour was a buzz with beautiful smiles and interesting conversations. While the cameras were flashing, cocktails were poured, the band played lite jazz and delicious hors d’oeuvres hit just the right spot.
A silent auction was held during the cocktail reception in order to raise funds for the Foundation. Items were donated from near and far, including world-class dining from Per Se and restaurant Daniel, roundtrip airfare from JetBlue, select wines, designer jewelry, and a host of experiences from various spas, sports venues, and salons.
There are still a few items available. You can make a bid to win one of these items via this link.
The Main Event
Similar to years passed, the highlight of the evening was the first time meeting between a patient and their life-saving bone marrow donor.
U.S. Law maintains strict rules regarding the confidentiality of bone marrow patients and their donors. Both patient and donor must wait at least one year before they are asked if they consent to share their information. Hopefully, if they each say “yes”, they get the opportunity to meet face-to-face.
The Icla da Silva Foundation is fortunate to make these meetings happen every year.
But this year was different, this year we were able to showcase two patient/donor meetings.
Meeting #1: Giliani and Marta
We arranged a meeting between 8-year-old Giliani from Miami, who was diagnosed with Kostman’s disease, and her bone marrow donor, Marta Sanchez, from New York.
Marta had signed up to become a donor at a drive organized by the Icla da Silva Foundation many years ago. When she finally received a call that she matched a patient in need, she immediately said yes to the transplant.
Their first meeting was a heart-warming experience for everyone in the room. In the presence of nearly 300 people, among the glaring lights and flashing cameras, adorable Giliani came up to the stage with her mom…and met Marta, the complete stranger who saved her life.
You can read their story and watch a video of their emotional first-time meeting here.
As more people are added to the registry, the chances for a life-saving transplant increase. This year the Icla da Silva Foundation was able to share a second patient/donor meeting at our Hope Gala.
Meeting #2: Stephanie and Crystal
We also had the great fortune to present the first time meeting between Stephanie, a young woman from New Jersey who was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia) and her life-saving donor Crystal Dozier from Arizona.
As a leukemia patient, Stephanie and her family had been working with the Icla da Silva Foundation during their search for a match. Stephanie had been to some of our events, and she came prepared with a speech…but she wasn’t prepared to hold back the tears…and neither could anyone else in the room.
Everyone watched as Stephanie and her donor Crystal hugged for the first time on stage. You could feel the intensity of that hug, and tears of joy were flowing at every table in the ballroom.
Read more about Stephanie’s battle for survival and watch the video of their first-time meetingvia this link.
You Can Help Us Save More Lives
The Hope Gala was a heartwarming and unforgettable evening. But our Gala was more than just two first-time meetings between a patient and their donor, it was a celebration of 27 years of service, with more than half a million potential donors added to the registry.
The Gala was also in honor of the nearly 800 people who registered through Icla da Silva and saved lives by donating their bone marrow to matching patients.
We are grateful for those lifesavers. We also appreciate the many people who support our mission.
There are several ways that you can help us continue our mission of saving lives. The top 3 are as follows:
Speak with us about hosting a drive through your connections with a university or employer. We are always looking for opportunities to reach people between the ages of 18-44 who may be interested in saving a life.
You can volunteer at one of our events, or at some of our larger recruitment drives. We can always use a helping hand.
Of course, you can also make a financial donation of any size. All donations are tax-deductible and are eligible to receive corporate matching from their employers. Ask your company if they match charitable contributions made by employees. Obviously, larger donations help us make strategic investments that further our vision.
Our vision is to ensure that every patient, regardless of ethnicity, has equal access to a matching stem cell donor. We also strive to give patients the support they need in order to receive their treatment.
You can also help by joining the registry. Click one of the links below. A swab kit will be mailed to your home. Once you return that kit, your name will be included in searches for life-saving donors.
Watch the short video below where Dave shares his story. After you join the registry, share with your family and friends so they may also join the registry. Help us change the odds…help us save more lives.
Written by Bret Itskowitch, special thanks to Andres David Lopez for shooting and editing.
Two Times: Two Diagnoses and Two Bone Marrow Transplants
Priscilla Lee seems to have a history of “twos”.
She is both intelligent, and funny. She spends time with her family in two vibrant cities, New York City and Hong Kong. She graduated from Indiana University after majoring in both Math and Economic Consulting. While at Indiana, she learned figure skating and broke her wrists, both of them, at the same time. Priscilla enjoys comedy, so she took improv lessons at both the Upright Citizens Brigade and, you guessed it, “Second” City. She performed improv, wait for it…twice.
Unfortunately, two times is not always better than once. Priscilla has also been diagnosed with leukemia, two times. She received one bone marrow transplant and is waiting for her second.
Diagnosed With Leukemia
She was first diagnosed with AML, acute myeloid leukemia, in December 2012, while on winter break with her family. For patients with AML, the bone marrow makes cells that have not completely matured, and the body is unable to ward off infections.
They found a matching bone marrow donor on the Be The Match registry and she received a transplant from an unrelated donor.
In May 2018, she relapsed and was also diagnosed with ALL, acute lymphocytic leukemia. Priscilla was immediately put under chemo, again. Her oncologist told her that the only way to remission is another bone marrow transplant.
Priscilla was extremely fortunate to be able to find a matching donor, a second time. Although she is constantly smiling, she is obviously anxious, and her family and friends are concerned about her well being, while she prepares for her second bone marrow transplant.
Challenges In Finding A Match
Priscilla is well aware of the difficulties that most ethnic minorities have when searching for a matching donor. Asians only have a 41% chance of finding a match, yet she was able to find a match, two times.
Since patients are most likely to match someone with the same ethnic ancestry, it is important for people with diverse ethnicity to include themselves on the registry. Many patients have very little chance of finding a matching donor.
Priscilla is both positive and strong. She is thankful for the selfless support of her parents, who still inspire her with their strength.
She is also incredibly grateful for the opportunity given to her by her donors, both of them. Two people have given her an opportunity for a second chance at life.
Her friends and family think Priscilla is brave, to be able to go through such adversity at a young age. Priscilla considers her bone marrow donor to be the truly brave soul. He had a choice. He chose to include himself on the Be The Match registry, and although he was under no obligation to agree to a donation when he was matched to Priscilla, he did. He donated and added years to her life. He became her superhero.
You can become someone’s superhero by joining the registry.
Priscilla thinks it is important for those who are willing and able to join the registry to know exactly what they are giving. They are giving life, but they are also supplying hope. Not just to a patient in need, but to their entire family, as well as their extended network of friends. A person who joins the registry and agrees to donate will touch many people through their selfless act. We hope they inspire many more to do the same.
Joining the Registry
Anyone between the ages of 18-44 can join the Be The Match registry and give hope to the many patients searching for a matching donor. After clicking the link below, you set up an account with an email and password. You complete the online registration by answering some basic eligibility questions. You will receive a simple, do-it-yourself HLA typing kit in the mail. The kit includes everything you need to collect a sample of cells from your cheek, using 2 cotton swabs. Once you return the kit, you will be added to the registry. Hopefully, you will receive a call that you match a patient in need.
Only one in 430 people who register will match a patient and go on to make a donation.
Priscilla has another superhero waiting in the wings. Someone else who was brave enough to join the registry and agree to donate their stem cells to a complete stranger.
Her second fight has just begun, and it will continue. We appreciate that Priscilla is sharing her story, and we hope it will inspire more superheroes to join the registry on her behalf.
Please join the registry today, you will supply hope and opportunity to many patients, as well as their families and friends.
5 Days to Save a Life – Andre’s Bone Marrow Donation Process
It started on a Thursday. By Monday at 1:20 PM, he was finished. He had saved someone’s life by donating his bone marrow.
When Andre Teixeira learned about the challenges facing so many blood cancer patients, he became interested in donating his bone marrow. Every year, more than 14,000 patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma are searching for a bone marrow transplant. For many, there is no matching donor. Not all will survive. Andre just wanted to make a difference. He wanted to help.
Joining the Registry
Andre attended a bone marrow drive run by the Icla da Silva Foundation. The drive took place at the Brazilian consulate in Boston, where he lives. He was a little nervous at first, but he decided to join the Be the Match registry.
At the drive, Andre met Maria Santos. Maria works with us at Icla da Silva. She organizes donor drives and works closely with patients throughout the Boston area who are in search of a life-saving bone marrow donation. She shared some information with Andre and assisted him with the registration process.
Finally Receiving ‘The Call’
Three years after joining the registry, Andre received a call from Be the Match. He was a match for a patient in need. They asked if he wanted to donate his bone marrow and he said “yes”.
Andre thought that by sharing his donation process, he may interest more people to do the same. He insists it was easy to register and painless to donate, and ultimately, he saved someone’s life.
The Donation Process
Be The Match set up an appoint for him to receive a blood test and get a physical. They wanted to ensure that he was physically fit and capable of donating without any risk. He was.
They used a clinic 5 minutes from his house, where he would go to receive a daily injection of filgrastim. Filgrastin increases the blood-producing cells in your blood stream.
He went for his 1st shot on a Thursday. It took 15 minutes.
Andre returned on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to receive his shots. He said he had a little bit of lower back pain on Saturday, but he was fine.
On Monday, he arrived at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. It was a little after 7 AM.
When he first received the call that he was “a match”, he contacted Maria Santos, from Icla da Silva. She had helped him join the registry 3 years ago. She went with Andre to the hospital, to join him for his bone marrow donation.
Andre received his last injection of filgrastim at the hospital on Monday and then began the donation process.
A doctor met with him, thanked him for agreeing to donate his marrow and explained the process. They did a PBSC donation (peripheral blood stem cell). Your blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that will collect only the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to your body through a needle in the other arm.
He was hooked up to the machine at about 8 AM.
Maria sat with him. They talked, watched TV, eat and drank. Andre insists there was no pain or discomfort.
At 1:20 PM, about 5 hours after they had begun, he was finished. Andre saw the small bag of his marrow (250ml). It would immediately be processed and sent to a patient. His donation would save that patients life.
He was asked to stand up and walk around a bit. They asked if he felt dizzy, or if he had any numbness. He said he felt fine.
The nurses on the floor all clapped for him and sent him home.
Andre said the process was easy, and he is excited that he was able to play a role in saving another person’s life.
We are grateful that he joined the registry and said “yes” when he received the call to donate his bone marrow. We are thankful that he has allowed us to share his story with you.
You can make a difference. Everyone can. Someone’s cure may literally be inside you. Please join the bone marrow registry today. You may be a match for someone.
We live in a world that is becoming more ethnically diverse. This diversity makes every one of us richer in experience, knowledge, and understanding. Every day we observe different cultures, practices, foods, and religions. We recognize people for who they are, with different skin color, dress and speech.
We understand that diversity makes each one of us unique.
We celebrate it. We honor our heritage and our own ethnic background. We tell stories and share traditions with our sons and daughters, and we reflect on the uniqueness that makes us who we are.
For patients suffering from a blood cancer like leukemia, lymphoma or sickle cell, being ethnically diverse can challenge their survival.
70% of patients in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, do not have a matching donor in their family. As a result, they rely on the NMDP registry, managed by Be The Match, to find a potential donor, a matching donor.
The best chance for a match is to find someone of similar ethnic ancestry who is willing to donate stem cells or bone marrow.
Unfortunately, many ethnicities are currently underrepresented on the registry, making it more difficult for those patients to find their match.
The Icla da Silva Foundation focuses on adding more ethnically diverse donors to the Be the Match registry. We strive to educate and inform more people about the importance of adding yourself to the registry and giving more hope to patients who are searching for a potential donor.
Answering The Challenge
There are 3 common questions regarding becoming a potential donor and giving a patient a second chance at life.
A. Is It Difficult?
Joining the registry to be included in patient searches is easy. Click any of the links on this page, set up an account with email and password, and answer a few questions. A swab kit will be sent to your home. Once you swab the inside of your cheek and return it to Be the Match, you are entered into the registry and included in patient searches.
Everyone should do it.
The total registration process takes about 8 minutes…10 minutes if you type slow like me.
B. Is It Scary?
There has been a lot of misinformation about bone marrow donation in movies and popular culture.
None of it is true.
There are two ways to donate bone marrow, (1) the more common PBSC method, performed at an outpatient clinic, and (2) a donation performed surgically, at a hospital.
80% of donors make their donation through PBSC (stem cell donation), which is a non-invasive outpatient procedure. PBSC donors receive daily injections of a drug called filgrastim for five days, to increase the number of blood-forming cells in the bloodstream. Then, through a process called apheresis, a donor’s blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to the donor through the other arm.
20% of donors do so with a surgical procedure done under general or regional anesthesia in a hospital. While a donor receives anesthesia, doctors use needles to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of the pelvic bone.
C. Is It Expensive?
The cost to donate bone marrow or stem cells is 100% free and doesn’t utilize your insurance. Be the Match will make sure that you have everything you need to donate. Whether it’s a ride to a transplant center, a letter explaining your donation to your employer, or help with childcare, Be the Match will be there for you.
Consider A Simple Solution
Join the Registry
Everyone can become part of the solution by joining the Be The Match registry. Inform your family and friends about the importance of adding themselves to become potential donors. You may become a life saver to a patient in need, a patient who does not have a match.
What would you do if you were faced with the challenge of dealing with a blood cancer like leukemia or sickle cell? Where would you go to search for a matching donor? How would you find someone who shares a similar ethnic background to you? There are over 14,000 patients who currently need a matching donor. Many will not survive because they can’t find someone like them, someone like you.
Remember, ethnically diverse patients are not well represented on the registry. If you are ethnically diverse, you are the only one who can change this fact.
Jefferson Araujo donated his bone marrow 10 years ago. He joined the registry through an Icla da Silva bone marrow drive in Boston, and after he donated, he met his recipient at the Icla da Silva Hope Gala in NYC.
He still supports the foundation by showing up at our events and sharing his story.
Jeffersen gave someone’s life back. He insists “you can’t explain it…it’s a marvelous feeling.” He says he would do it again, 10,000 times. We are grateful he did it once. Thank you Jeffersen, you are truly appreciated.
Rachell Souza was born with severe aplastic anemia. Her only chance to survive was a bone marrow transplant. Her family looked for a compatible donor for five years. Their search finished when Jefferson joined the Be The Match registry in Boston, at one of the Icla da Silva Foundation marrow drives.
Since both Jefferson and Rachell have Brazilian ancestry, Jeffersen was a match for Rachell.
Rachel and Jefferson met in NYC for the first time during our Hope Gala event in 2009. She is now 18, they still keep in touch.
You can make a difference in someone’s life. You could be someones match.
The human spirit is alive. People are surprisingly positive and giving, kind and generous…I witnessed it first hand last weekend. Hope was everywhere.
Saturday, April 14th was the 2nd annual Mix and Match luncheon sponsored by the Icla da Silva Foundation. Despite the inherent challenges and dire consequences of people dealing with various forms of blood cancers, the room was filled with smiles and hope.
Family members stood and talked about their involvement with Icla da Silva. They shared stories about the loss of loved ones due to leukemia and MDS, but they still maintained focus on the importance of spreading the word about bone marrow donation and doing everything they could to help others, in the name of their father, son, daughter, husband, sister, wife, cousin and friend.
Donors talked about receiving the call that they were a match and feeling blessed by the opportunity to give life to someone through a bone marrow donation. Often, the process is not much more cumbersome than giving plasma, and they described the chance to donate their bone marrow as a privilege, as something they did not think twice about, as a way to save a person’s life.
Survivors shared information about their journeys, the diagnosis, the chemotherapy, the loving support from friends and family. They talked about working with Icla da Silva and Be the Match on the search for a matching donor, and they smiled about the outcome of a successful transplant.
And then there were the patients, some just beginning their journey, others surviving for longer than expected…all hoping that a matching donor could be found.
Icla da Silva Mix & Match luncheon, April 14, 2018
Some matches are harder to find. Be the Match has is the largest and most diverse bone marrow registry in the world, but it is still not big enough, or diverse enough. The Icla da Silva Foundation focuses on increasing both the size and diversity of the registry. We work to recruit potential donors from all ethnic segments in the hope that more patients will be able to find the match that they need.
You can help us save more lives by completing any combination of the following three actions:
Join the registry and add hope to the many patients looking for a matching donor. Please click the link Join the Registry.
If you have the ability to connect and communicate with a group or community organization, we can work with you to schedule a Bone Marrow Drive hosted by you or your group; please enter your information using this link Host a Drive, and someone from the Icla da Silva Foundation will contact you. It only requires a small investment of time, and the promise to gather an interested crowd.
The other way to provide support is financially. Even small donations help us to recruit more donors and provide support services to patients in need. We are a 501 (c)(3) and all donations are tax deductible. You can donate using this link Donate Funds.
Please help us continue to keep hope alive.
Patient Update: Asaya Bullock
Asaya loves karate, the color blue, and his little sister Anaya. They are best friends and they get along like two peas in a pod. He is a fun-loving little boy who is surrounded by loving parents and the support of family and friends, but he needs your help.
We have been working with Asaya Bullock and his family since 2014. Asaya has been the focus of 163 bone marrow donor drives, where we have registered 2487 potential donors on his behalf, and we continue to stand by his family for emotional, logistical and financial support. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been enough to find his cure.
This beautiful little boy needs your help.
At the age of 8 months, Asaya was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called I-PEX. His parents were told he would not live past the age of two. You can read more about his story here.
In July, Asaya will be 7, which means that he has been living with this rare disease for almost seven years. He is enrolled in first grade, but he misses class often due to his compromised immune system. This past winter was rough on the family; the flu lasted for 6 weeks and Asaya lost a lot of weight. He receives IgG treatments (Immunoglubulin replacement therapy) every other week, administered by his mom so they don’t have to spend so much time traveling to the doctor. The treatments hope to increase the IgG levels in his blood, which to help fight infections.
Asaya is in desperate need of a matching bone marrow donor. His father Vincent is African American, and his mother Charlene is West Indian Caribbean. Unfortunately, Asaya’s ethnicity is under represented in the bone marrow registry. Not enough potential donors have joined, so a match has not yet been identified. Could you be his match? Do you have friends or family that could be a life saving match? Please consider joining the registry here http://join.bethematch.org/TeamAsaya. Share this post with your social media network and ask your friends to join using the links below. Get involved and host a marrow drive in your community to register more potential life savers. Learn how to do that here.
Thanks for reading, registering, and sharing. We need to work together to find a match for little Asaya.
What if You Could Save a Life?
What if you were the only one who could save a life? If you could be that hero, the one that someone has been looking for and perhaps the only one in the world who fits the criteria, would you do it? Would you take the necessary steps and give life to another?
Every year, more than 14,000 patients are diagnosed with blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia. For these patients, a stem cell or bone marow transplant is their only hope for survival.
70% do not have a matching donor in their family. They are reliant on finding a donor through the Be The Match bone marrow registry. It’s the largest and most diverse registry in the world, but it’s not large enough, or nearly diverse enough.
The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for Be The Match. Our focus is on supporting under represented communities, and we work tirelessly to find bone marrow matches for minority groups and mixed-background ethnicities whose current donor pool is either far too small, or almost non-existent.
The simple fact is that not enough people of ethnic diversity have joined the registry. This has resulted in a registry that is currently under represented for many ethnic segments. We are working to change this. You can help by joining and asking those close to you to do the same.
Aashim Joy is one of the potential recipients still searching for his perfect bone marrow match. He was diagnosed with B-Cell Type Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in July last year, and he requires a bone marrow transplant. Like many blood cancer sufferers, he has no other hope of beating the disease.
One year into his marriage, his diagnosis was a shock and the new couple’s American Dream seemed to fade before their eyes. Involved in the financial sector in New York City, the couple had recently relocated from Bangalore to start a new life together in the Big Apple when Aashim was diagnosed.
Reaching out to the Be The Match Registry, the largest in the world, Aashim and Reema were hopeful of a quick match and a happy ending. Despite their time and enthusiasm, the search has been longer than expected. People of Indian descent are not common on the registry, which makes the genetic and ethnic aspects of finding a perfect match more difficult.
“The Indian community is underrepresented [on the bone marrow donation registry], which makes it more difficult to find a matching donor.”
The search is still on for Aashim’s perfect bone marrow match. Both he and Reema remain positive of finding a match, urging everyone they meet to sign up and join the bone marrow registry. Not only for the sake of Aashim and his lovely wife, but for other patients who walk this difficult road beside them.
Signing up as a potential donor is simple. If you match a patient, it is obviously a life-saving experience for the recipient, but it can also be life-changing for the donor. You are literally giving someone a second chance at life.
The process involves clicking the link, setting up an account with an email and a password, and providing some general health and ethnicity information. You will receive a swab kit in the mail. Once you return the kit, you will be included in searches for patients in need of a matching donor.
If you match a patient and are eventually asked to donate bone marrow, please say yes. The process is simpler than you think. You can read about it here. The bone marrow cells in your body are replenished within four to six weeks after the procedure and your life goes on.
Each person who joins the Registry is a new potential match for a patient in need.
If bone marrow donation is not an option for you, the following are also helpful ways to get involved and help a patient in need:
Organize a bone marrow drive.. We’re here to provide tips and suggestions on how to run a successful drive in your community. Who knows? This could be the difference between life and death for somebody waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
Donate your time.Patients and their families spend the majority of their precious time doing mundane administrative and logistical tasks while looking for assistance and finding a match. Why not offer to help out at a local clinic or volunteer at an organization like the Icla da Silva Foundation?
Give Financially.Always a great need in a non-profit based organization, financial assistance is a tremendous help in donor searches, educational awareness events, and covering economically-challenged patients’ medical bills.
Support events and fundraisers. There are people all over the world trying to assist in bone marrow donation and awareness. Go to their fundraising events, tweet about it, share a link on social media, support media efforts and invite some friends! Our 8th annual Matchmaker 5K Walk is just around the corner, sign up now.
Heritage and Ethnicity Matter!
Aashim is a wonderful example of where ethnicity and genetics play a pivotal role in bone marrow donation. The Indian donor pool is, unfortunately, not representative or diverse enough to cater to such a large population; and Aashim has not been able to find a suitable donor match thus far. The larger the pool of donors, the more diverse the pool becomes, significantly improving the probability of finding a match.
There is hope. Many of our success stories are a testament to perseverance and tenacity, often at the hands of an invested team of supporters and medical professionals. There are victories worth mentioning, and heroes who decided to take the leap.
The Flaherty Brothers
At age 3, William was diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). The immune system attacks the body’s own organs instead of protecting it against foreign invaders. Charles was only seven at the time, but turned out to be a perfect match for his little brother and insisted on donating his stem cells to save William. The procedure was on a Thursday and Charles was back at school by the Monday morning remembering the worst part of the whole experience as having to take off the bandage!
Both brothers are now healthy and living life to the full back in Puerto Rico. After the procedure, Charles was treated to a ski trip with his father and unbelievably, it has lead to a lifelong passion. He was Puerto Rico’s single star on the Alpine Ski team at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
Smiling is a universal language, and Mya is an expert. This 9-year-old has been through an epic battle against T-cell leukemia and came out on top. Described as a ‘beautiful, positive, joyful spirit,’ she and her family are finally seeing the light after years of struggle against this devastating illness.
Chemotherapy was ineffective in treating her condition. Thankfully one of Mya’s brothers was a 100% percent match and he gladly donated his bone marrow stem cells. Her recovery is going well, but the treatment is expected to continue for the next two to five years, which means the financial strain on the family is huge.
Born at 27 weeks, Tancrede Bouveret was the spark in his father, Luc’s, eye – a tiny, perfect addition to the family. At age of eleven he was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), which eventually progressed into Leukemia. Unfortunately, Tancrede’s little brother was not a suitable donor (only 25% of siblings are).
After an extensive search in Brazil, the U.S.A and France, the excited family was able to locate a 100% percent match and Tancrede was saved. Complications resulted in an extra long hospital stay and a need for more lymphocytes, which his donor gladly provided. On October 18, 2017, Tancrede met his bone marrow donor for the first time at the Icla da Silva Hope Gala in New York City. It was an unforgettable moment of shared joy and hope for humanity.
So, are you open to the possibility of saving someone’s life? Take the leap and register as a bone marrow donor. Help however and whomever you can, because life is short and everyone deserves an opportunity to flourish in the time we have been granted.
Thanks for reading. Please share.
Renata Has Faith
Renata Coimbra is full of life. She is always smiling and spreads joy wherever she goes. She is very close with her family and friends, she worries about those less fortunate, and she regularly contributes to her church and her community. She is recently married, a positive role model, and faithfully leads others in prayer.
Renata was recently diagnosed with leukemia and is in desperate need of a bone marrow donor. She has begun an aggressive treatment of chemotherapy and she knows that she has a long and difficult path ahead, but she has faith that she will find a matching donor.
In 2001, she moved from Espirito Santo in southern Brazil, to Boston, Massachusetts, where she worked as a house manager and loving nanny for 13 years. Missing the tropical climate of her childhood, Renata moved to Florida in 2014, where she met and married her love, Danilo. Together, they enjoy music and movies, regularly attend church, and spend time with Danilo’s family, who has accepted her as their own.
Late last year, Renata was suffering from shortness of breath. After multiple visits with doctors and specialists, she was unexpectedly diagnosed with a lymphoma that had formed in her chest and attacked the bone marrow. It quickly developed into leukemia. She has been told that even with chemo treatments to fight the cancer in her blood, a bone marrow transplant will be necessary to ensure her survival. After multiple treatments and two hospitalizations in the short timespan since she has been diagnosed, she has been forced to quit her job and live a remarkably different lifestyle.
Before she got sick, Renata and Danilo enjoyed dancing and going to the beach on weekends. Although she misses work and her Zumba class, she has never lost faith that she will overcome this disease.
Renata’s faith is overwhelming. Early in the search, they found three matching donors. Unfortunately, none of them were ready to make the commitment to donate. Renata insists that she has the support of God, friends and family, and a matching donor will come through.
While we certainly hope that everyone who registers is able to stay committed if they ever receive the call, it is important to recognize that the vast majority of bone marrow patients require a non-surgical process called peripheral blood stem cell donation (PBSC).
A PBSC bone marrow transplant requires a donor to take injections of filgrastim over the course of 5 days, which increases the number of blood forming cells in your blood stream. On the day of donation, your blood is removed through a needle in one arm, passed into a machine that separates the blood forming cells that your body has produced, and then your blood is returned back into your body through the other arm.
The process is relatively simple.
Please consider registering to become a potential bone marrow donor for Renata and the many other patients who are looking for a match.