Finding a stem cell donor who matches a patient with blood cancer is rare.
Some donors wait years before they are called on to donate their stem cells. Some never get called. They miss the opportunity to save a life.
Unfortunately, this means that some patients may never find their match.
The Icla da Silva Foundation recruits stem cell donors for the Be The Match registry. The more donors we add to the registry, the greater the likelihood of finding a cure for a patient.
Pace University Setters Join the Registry
In March, just before the pandemic caused social distancing, we organized a recruitment drive with the Pace University football team The Setters, under the leadership of coach Andy Rondeau.
On that day in March, freshman starter Miles Mendez joined the registry. He joined along with 50 of his teammates.
Miles Matches a Patient
In April, barely one month after joining the registry, Miles Mendez received a call that he was a match for a 57-year-old woman with leukemia.
After discussing it with his parents and his coach, Miles said yes to donating his stem cells.
He said yes to saving a person’s life.
A stem cell transplant is the only cure for life-threatening diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell. On average, only 1 in every 460 people who register, will end up matching a patient in need of a transplant. It is quite rare.
What Happens After Donating
Miles doesn’t know the patient who received his stem cells.
The identity of a patient and their matching donor are kept confidential. After an 18-month waiting period, once the transplant is deemed successful, they are given the opportunity to share information with each other. They may eventually meet.
We hope Miles gets the chance to meet the person he saved. Since he joined the registry through Icla da Silva, we would be honored to invite him and the patient to meet on stage at one of our annual Hope Gala dinners where donor/patient meetings are the main event. (Read about last years Hope Gala)
Thank You Miles
We are thankful that Miles Mendez made a commitment to save a life by joining the registry. We are grateful that he said yes when he received the call to donate his stem cells.
Everyone is proud of his selfless, life-saving action.
Coach Andy Rondeau remarked, “this is awesome, what a life experience for the team.” The coach says it’s a tradition for the teams that he has coached to sign up with Be the Match.
Miles encourages others to sign up for programs that make a difference. “If you have a chance to save a life,” said Mendez, “just do it. It’s worth it.”
How You Can Save a Life
Start by joining the registry. Click the link below to set-up an account and answer some basic questions. A swab kit will be mailed to your home. After swabbing the inside of your cheeks and returning the kit in the prepaid envelope, you will be included in patient searches.
If you eventually end up matching a patient in need, you may save a life. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Please join. Do it in honor of Miles and the Pace University Setters.
Together, we will save more lives.
join the registry
To read more about Miles and his transplant, click this link from Event-NewsEnterprise.
Written by: Bret Itskowitch