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On October 17, 2018, Aunesti Sullivan and her extended family met Michael Powell, the man who saved her life.
Aunesti, a 13 year old girl from Toledo, Ohio, was born with sickle cell anemia. At the age of 10, as a result of the sickle cell, she developed Avascular Necrosis (AVN), also known as brittle bone disease.
Needless to say, Aunesti’s young life has been filled with treatments, transfusions, and extended hospital stays.
Her doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant to cure her disease, and she was fortunate to find a 100% matching donor through the Be The Match registry. That Donor is Michael Powell, and he joined the registry through a donor drive run by the Icla da Silva Foundation.
Michael donated his bone marrow through a surgical procedure on June 1, 2017 at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City. On June 2, Aunesti received a bone marrow transplant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio.
One year following the transplant, and Aunesti is doing very well. She is active, back in school, and living the life of a teenager. This past October, at the annual Icla da Silva Hope Gala in New York City, Aunesti and Michael met for the first time.
“He’s given me a quality of life, he’s given me the opportunity to be a teenager, and live life to the fullest.”
– Aunesti Sullivan
“Someone needed help and it was an opportunity for me to help that person…I couldn’t think of a reason not to do it.”
– Michael Powell
As we begin the coming holiday season, we are both thankful and grateful. One person gave and another received, and both are better as a result.
Anyone between the age of 18-44 can join the registry and become a potential donor for a patient in need. Please join.
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Watch below for a recap of their meeting at the 26th Icla da Silva Hope Gala on October 17, 2018:
We Remember the Tate Family
Last month was National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. In recognition, we remember the courageous Tate family from Maple grove Minnesota.
The first two daughters of Yalonda and Gary Tate both had sickle cell anemia. The life threatening disease meant bi-weekly trips to the hospital for blood transfusions and follow up visits for both girls. People with sickle cell disease have abnormal hemoglobin in their red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body. When the cells are irregularly shaped, like sickles or crescent moons, the cells can get stuck and are not able to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body. Sickle cell disease is most common among people of African descent. The only cure is a matching bone marrow transplant.
Madison, the oldest daughter (now 23), had a bone marrow transplant in 2004, which failed. The doctors told the Tates that a sibling bone marrow match was their best hope. Since their daughter Olivia was also sick, she was not an option for a transplant.
The Tates decided to have another baby. They went through in vitro fertilization, testing Yolanda’s eggs until they found one free of the sickle cell trait. In November of 2005, the Tates gave birth to their 3rd daughter, Quinnlyn. At the age of six months, Quinnlyn gave her oldest sister Madison a gift of life. Stored stem cells from her umbilical cord were used in a transplant, giving life to her older sister.
Olivia (now 19) was also in need of a matching bone marrow transplant. Fortunately, a 100% match was found. The donor, Sidnei Barbosa, had registered to become a donor through the Icla da Silva Foundation. The foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match registry, focusing almost exclusively on patients with a racially diverse background.
Joining the registry, especially for people from minority communities, is important. Olivia Tate was extremely fortunate to find a match to her blood type, but there just aren’t enough potential donors of African decent on the registry. The African American community is underrepresented, which makes it more difficult to find a matching donor. You can register here and help save a life.
Four years ago, Olivia met her donor for the first time at the Icla da Silva Foundations Hope Gala in New York City. You can view the heart-warming story here:
The Icla da Silva Foundation is holding their 25th Anniversary Hope Gala on October 18, 2017. At the Gala, there will be another special meeting between a patient and her donor. You can donate here to help us continue our mission of saving lives by recruiting bone marrow donors and supporting patients and their families with diseases treatable by marrow transplants.