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The Icla da Silva Foundation has been saving lives for many years. In the beginning, we had a small footprint, adding 5000 people per year to the Be The Match Bone Marrow Registry.
We have grown considerably. In the next year, we hope to pass the half-million mark, adding more than 500,000 potential life-savers to the registry.
In October, we arranged for two cancer survivors to meet their life-saving donors for the first time. They each met onstage during our Hope Gala in NYC:
Marta Sanchez registered through Icla da Silva 11 years ago. Thankfully, when she finally received the call that she matched a patient in need, she said yes. Marta and Giliani Lacayo met for the first time on stage at our Hope Gala (watch video).
Stephanie Cisne had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia. We had worked with Stephanie’s family during their search for a matching transplant several years ago. Stephanie got to meet her life-saving donor Crystl for the first time (watch video).
In November, we were notified that 7 people who joined the registry through Icla da Silva, transplanted their bone marrow or stem cells to patients suffering from life-threatening diseases.
Each one of them is a life-saver.
We are proud of the work that we do, but it isn’t enough. We continue to work with so many patients and their families who are still searching for their own life-saving match.
Asaya’s parents have been searching for a match since he was 2 months old. Asaya turned 8 in July and there is still no match for Asaya.
Julian’s family has been searching the registry for 5 years. Three donors were identified, but each one of them said no when the call was made that they were a match. There is no committed donor for Julian.
Veronica’s family has been searching for almost 3 years. There is still no match for Veronica.
Currently, there are no matches for so many patients.
Not yet anyway.
We have to keep moving forward. We must do everything we can to grow the registry in order to save more lives.
But we need your assistance. We cannot do it without you.
There are two ways you can help us add more donors to the registry.
We have been engaging college campuses across the country. Since the registry is underrepresented across all ethnic minorities, we are focusing on Universities with diverse enrollment.
You can help us by leveraging any contacts you may have with University Leadership, as well as Social, Professional, or Service-Oriented Sororities and Fraternities.
We are meeting with Deans, Professors and other on-campus Leaders in order to organize larger recruitment drives among the student body. Send us an email (Airam@icla.org) or fill out a host form with your ideas.
host a drive
You can also assist our efforts with a financial donation. Help us sponsor ‘lunch and learns’ on campus. These gatherings provide the opportunity to share our stories and engage potential life-savers, adding more donors to the registry.
make a donation
Thanks for reading. We are committed to saving as many lives as possible, and with your help, we will give more patients hope for their cure.
Your support will help us save more lives.
Written by: Bret ItskowitchShe Battled Cancer, and Almost Didn’t Make It
Watch a Cancer Patient Finally Meet her Guardian Angel, the Girl Who Donated her Bone Marrow
Every year, the Icla da Silva Foundation hosts their Hope Gala in NYC. The highlight of the evening is the first time meeting between a patient and their life-saving bone marrow donor. The meeting happens on stage, in front of many supporters, most of whom are crying as the patient and donor share their story.
You can read about the Hope Gala here, but this tells the story of one of those patients…and their matching donor.
When Stephanie was a freshman in college, she fainted for no apparent reason. Her friends got her up and took her to the ER. The doctors checked that she didnlt have a concussion, and said that she was just malnourished.
Over the next few weeks, Stephanie continued to feel weak. She came close to fainting a few more times, so she went in for a check-up.
After reviewing her bloodwork, the doctor sent her to a cancer specialist.
On March 10, 2014, Stephanie was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia), with an FLT 3 mutation. The cancer was very aggressive. She was hospitalized immediately.
An FLT 3 mutation meant that her body was actually encouraging the growth of the leukemia cells.
The oncologist said that she would need a bone marrow transplant, as soon as possible, in order to survive.
Her family began working with the Icla da Silva Foundation and we immediately started organizing marrow drives.
Fortunately, a matching donor was identified very quickly. On August 6, 2014, Stephanie received her bone marrow transplant.
But her journey wasn’t over. Many complications followed the transplant.
She battled serious infections and septic shock. One leg was on the verge of amputation. Stephanie had developed a life-threatening liver disease, followed by kidney failure.
Then her body went into a coma. They weren’t sure she would wake up. The doctors gave her 72 hours.
Fortunately, Stephanie is a survivor. She took her battles head-on and never showed fear. She is now cancer-free, thanks to her doctors…and her life-saving bone marrow donor.
When we asked her what she would tell people who were considering joining the registry, she reminded us that “small actions can have big results”.
Stephanie explained to us, “That small gesture of swabbing your cheek, to see if you are a match for someone, will literally change your life. When you go through a donation, when you utilize the power you have to save a life, you gain a connection with a complete stranger. You will have made a difference in someone else’s life. You would touch an entire family.”
“You will give the gift of life to a long list of friends and relatives that you never even knew existed.”
Crystal was on the other side of the country when she joined the registry in 2007. There was a blood drive at her school and representatives from Be The Match were at that blood drive to sign people up for the registry.
Crystal came to donate blood and she was inspired by another opportunity to help people, so she joined the registry.
In the summer of 2014, while at lunch with her mother and sister, she received the call that she matched a patient in need. Crystal agreed to donate her bone marrow.
Crystal explains that she did a lot of health-related interviews over the phone, followed by a number of blood tests and screens. In addition to checking that she was the perfect match for a patient, they also wanted to ensure that her health would not be subject to any challenges.
Crystal told us, “The actual donation was over before I knew it…literally. They knock you out for it. And the recovery wasn’t too bad. Everyone involved was so nice and helpful; they made all my appointments, took care of all the paperwork and financials, all I had to do was show up. The whole thing was relatively painless.”
5 years after the transplant, Stephanie and Crystal had the opportunity to meet for the first time. It happened on stage, in NYC, at the Icla da Silva Hope Gala.
In a ballroom filled with 300 onlookers, Stephanie and Crystal met face-to-face. They didn’t know each other…now they are sisters. You can watch the video below.
Not everyone who joins the registry ends up matching a patient and saving a life, but you have to take that first step and include yourself.
Please consider joining the registry in honor of Stephanie and her donor Crystal.
join the registry
This story ends with a quote from Crystal to Stephanie…”I know the past few years haven’t been easy but you’ve traveled through them with immeasurable dignity and grace. I am so incredibly proud of you and honored to meet you. And just because the donation is over doesn’t mean my involvement in your fight is over. We’re in this together.”
Please consider joining the registry. As Crystal says, “we’re in this together.”
Written by Bret Itskowitch
A Little Girl From Miami is Saved by a Stranger from New York
Watch an 8-Year-Old Girl with a Life-Threatening Disease Meet Her Life-Saving Bone Marrow Donor
It was a once in a lifetime meeting…and it happened on stage, in front of a crowd of 300 tearful witnesses at the Icla da Silva Foundations annual Hope Gala.
The Gala is an end-of-year fundraiser, celebrating achievements and thanking supporters. You can read about it here.
The highlight of that evening was the face-to-face, first time meeting between a patient and their life-saving bone marrow donor.
8-year-old Giliani Lacayo was the patient. She was brought to the stage by her mom Diomaris. Giliani was diagnosed with Kostman’s syndrome, a rare disorder of the bone marrow. Children born with this condition lack the white blood cells that are important in fighting infection.
The doctors told Giliani’s mom that her only cure was a matching bone marrow transplant.
In February of 2015, at the age of 4, Giliani received a cord blood transplant. But unfortunately, one month later, the family was told that the transplant did not take.
As you might expect, Giliani’s mom was upset. She was fearful and very concerned. They had gone through this devastating process…months of hospitalization, four times with pneumonia, intense antibiotic treatments, daily injections of white blood cell boosters…and in the end, they had gotten nowhere.
Her 4-year-old little girl was not yet saved.
The doctors began the search for a matching bone marrow donor on the national registry. There are more than 20 million potential donors listed on the registry, but it’s all about the match. When a patient and donor share the same ethnicity, when they match, the chance for a successful transplant is much higher.
The search for a donor is more difficult for patients like Giliani, who are ethnically diverse. While White patients have a 77% chance of finding a matching donor, the chance of finding one for a Latino patient is only 46%; it’s even lower for African American patients.
Fortunately for Giliani, and despite her Hispanic origin, a match was found. Her name was Marta Sanchez, and she said yes when she received the call, asking her to donate her bone marrow.
Marta remembers joining the registry at a drive run by the Icla da Silva Foundation. It was at the Dominican Embassy in NYC. She insists that joining the registry was no big deal. When she learned that she may be the cure for someone like her, she was happy to add her name and information.
Seven years later, she received a call that she was a match for a patient.
Two days before Christmas, in 2015, Marta went to the hospital and donated her bone marrow.
At the time, she was going through some very difficult personal challenges. She had also received a lot of negative reactions from friends who declared it was dangerous and painful.
Marta insists that it was not dangerous or painful. She knew in her heart that it was something she had to do. Someone was counting on her.
Despite all that she was going through, even though she was concerned about not having enough to gift her beautiful daughters on Christmas, she knew that giving the gift of life to a complete stranger would be a blessing from God.
On Christmas Eve in 2015, little Giliani Lucayo received her life-saving bone marrow transplant from Marta Sanchez.
To watch Giliani’s mother express her gratitude for Marta’s selfless act was heart-wrenching. They embraced on stage for the longest time and it was a beautiful thing to witness.
We were fortunate to watch the story unfold on stage.
A young girl suffering from a rare disease. A mother struggling to understand what will happen next. And a selfless woman, navigating her own challenges, who took the steps to unanimously give life to an unknown person.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. You can watch them meet in the short video below. At 2:55 little Giliani thanks Marta for saving her life.
Giliani’s mom Diomaris, gave us her reaction to Marta’s life-saving bone marrow donation for her little girl, “There are no words for what she did. I’m thankful for her every day. I pray for her and her family every day. My whole life I will be thankful for her, she is part of our lives, she is part of our family. “
You could save another person’s life. You may be able to give joy to an entire family by donating your stem cells or bone marrow to a patient who doesn’t have a match in their family. Please add yourself to the Be The Match registry by clicking the link below. You will receive a swab kit in the mail. As soon as you return the kit, your name will be included in searches for matching donors.
Be like Marta. Do it for patients like Giliani.
join the registry
Thanks for reading.
Written by Bret ItskowitchFort Myers Woman Meets German Stem Cell Donor – FOX 4 Now, Southwest Florida
Andrea McCarraher was diagnosed in September 2015 and after rounds of chemo, she was placed on a list for a stem cell donation.
The donation eventually came via 26-year-old Daniela who lives in Germany.
According to Daniela, signing up to donate stem cells is pretty common there.
“It’s not special… A lot of people do it.”
It may be no big deal in Germany, but it was life-changing here in Fort Myers, where Andrea says she aims to make the most of her second chance at life by encouraging others to donate.
Read the story from Fox 4 News in Southwest Florida here..
Watch the video
Inspired to jon the registry and potentially save someones life?
join the registryStill Smiling – David Gonzales Shares His Story
David Gonzales shares his story from Centro Church in Dallas, Texas.
David has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, recurring 4 times in his life. He has undergone 415 days of chemo and radiation and he is currently in remission.
Despite his disease, he still smiles. He is living his life and he continues to support his community by holding bone marrow drives with the Icla da Silva Foundation.
Hispanic and Latino persons who are suffering from various blood cancers, only have a 23% chance of finding a matching donor. A 23% chance at a life-saving cure.
There simply aren’t enough Latinos included on the registry.
A matching bone marrow or stem cell donor is the only cure for many patients.
Together, we can increase the likelihood of finding a match by asking as many people as possible to join the Be The Match registry.
join the registry
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.Join Us for the Icla da Silva 2019 Hope Gala
BREAKING NEWS: On October 16th, 2019, the Icla da Silva Foundation will hold its 27th annual Hope Gala celebration. The event promises to be an extraordinary evening of dining and dancing while raising funds to support our mission.
Held annually, the Hope Gala celebrates the Foundation’s achievements for the year in fighting leukemia and other diseases treatable by bone marrow transplants. The evening’s highlight is an emotional first-time meeting between a former patient and their life-saving bone marrow donor.
Please join us, rsvp here:
RSVP for the Hope gala
This year, the Hope Gala is honoring Dr. Lawrence Itskowitch. As a founding board member, Dr. Itskowitch has been with the Foundation since day one. He will share some of his experiences working with the foundation at its onset, and meeting Icla prior to her death from leukemia in 1992.
The Icla da Silva Foundation is extremely grateful to the Hope Gala Host Committee and Co-Chairs, Mrs. Tanae & Mr. Claudio Braz Ferro, and Mrs. Renata & Mr. Claudio Garcia.
Their gracious support enables us to move forward in our mission of both saving lives by recruiting bone marrow donors and providing support services to children and adults with leukemia and other diseases treatable by marrow transplants.
We hope to see you on October 16th. RSVP today! Together we will save more lives.
About Icla da Silva
The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match Registry in the United States. The Foundation recruits over 38,000 potential bone marrow donors every year, with a strong focus on minority communities.
The Icla da Silva Foundation was established in 1992, in memory of the 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 get her life-saving treatment: a bone marrow transplant. The young girl never found a matching donor.
The mission of the Icla da Silva Foundation is to save lives by recruiting bone marrow donors and to provide support services to children and adults with leukemia and other diseases treatable by marrow transplants. The Icla da Silva Foundation is a nonprofit organization under section 501(c) 3 of the IRS Code.
7-year-old Asaya Bullock has a rare immune system disease, and the only cure is a bone marrow transplant. His parents have been searching for five years with no luck and are trying to raise awareness and encourage more African-American donors. Out of some 10 million potential bone marrow donors in the U.S., fewer than 1 million are African-American.
View the segment on NBC News.
How can you help Asaya?
join the registryHow You Can Help Save This Little Boy’s Life – Modern Wellness Guide
Alfredo Diaz is suffering from an extremely rare disease. A blood stem cell transplant, from a genetically matched donor is his only hope for a cure.
His mom, Natalia Torres, is confident that a matching donor will be found. “There’s one out there, we just have to find him or her.”
We are searching for Alfredo and his family…you can help us by joining the registry and sharing Alfredo’s story.
join for alfredo
read his storyThank You!
Your donations will help us add more potential life-savers to the Be The Match registry this year.
Even if you were unable to make a financial donation, we wanted to thank you for your continued support.
Every dollar, like, share and mention brings us closer to our goal of saving more lives that are treatable with bone marrow transplants.
You are appreciated.
MAKE A DONATION
Icla da Silva is a 501(c)3 organization and your donation is tax deductible.
JOIN THE REGISTRY
Wishing you and your family a healthy and happy New Year!
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.
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.
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.
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.
JOIN THE REGISTRY
Written by: Bret Itskowitch