The Reason We Do What We Do
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 meeting via 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 18-40 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.
Join the registry in honor of Giliani:
Join the registry in honor of Stephanie:
Thanks for reading. We hope to see you at future celebrations.
Written by Bret Itskowitch