AND… SHE MADE IT!
OK so let’s back track for a second in case you guys didn’t know.. Two years ago, I donated bone marrow to a teenage girl with Acute Myeloid Leukemia . That was just about all I knew of my bone marrow recipient, nothing more. Having the chance to save someone’s life was a super humbling and meaningful experience for me but I was always curious to learn more about her.
About 4 months after the operation, I got great news that my bone marrow recipient was recovering well. I got more good news at the 7 and 12 month mark after the transplant. However after that I stopped receiving updates, I began to inquire about the status of my match.. Months went by and I failed to get any response or update regarding my match.
Day 827 (counting the day from when I received the initial call from Be the Match)
I get an e-mail from my Be The Match coordinator telling me my recipient has signed consent for the release of her personal information.
WAIT. HOLD THE KEYBOARD. WHAT?!?!
After a year of silence and thinking the worst, this happens. Just finding out that my match was still alive was amazing, but to find out I get to find out the identity of this person makes the experience feel so real.
Once I received the contact information on my match, I did what anyone else would do…
I Googled her immediately and started reading about all the stories surrounding this girl.
That’s right — she has a name! Meet Carly from Maryland. She was a high school senior at the time of her cancer treatment. Her story, like many others dealing with cancer, was really difficult to read about.
As I read through her GoFundMe page, I started choking up learning about the struggles Carly and her family experienced during her Leukemia treatment.
However, it was so touching to see the love and support Carly’s high school and community poured out for her. Her family and friends worked tirelessly to help find a bone marrow match for Carly.
(Side note — whoever was in charge of getting the word out, should have a job in PR.)
The campaign to save Carly made it on local TV news!
Even the biggest radio station in Washington DC, HOT 99.5 changed their name to Carly 99.5 for a day to help raise awareness!
Watching these videos was surreal because every time they mentioned they were searching for a match for Carly to save her life, that match was me!
Now I don’t know the full story yet about why they did not find a match at the beginning of this process. But it sounds like through some miraculous occurrence, Carly’s bone marrow conditions / requirements changed and ended up matching up to me being a potential donor.
You already knew what I had to go through to make it to the operating table, but it really pales in comparison to the stuff Carly had to go through. She’s a real warrior!
And the moment where my emotions just lost it was when I found this picture of Carly on Instagram.
Hi Friends & Family, Today my sister, Carly, received a bone marrow transplant. We have been anticipating this day for months. It is one of the biggest days of her life. God bless the donor who was gracious enough to donate over 1 liter of bone marrow to help save my sister’s life. We are eternally thankful and will treasure this gift of life forever. We’re praying for a successful recovery where she will finally be cured and we can meet the donor. All Glory goes to God as He was with her today. We thank God the transplant went smoothly. Now she is officially on the road to recovery. The first week will be the roughest, but with our continuous faith and our faithful God, it will only get better. She is one of the strongest persons I know. She is a FIGHTER! The transplant started at 1:35pm this afternoon, and finally finished this evening at 7:59pm. After a long six hours and thirty-four minutes, it is complete! May God continue to bless my sister and her bone marrow. Thank you so much to every single person for their positive thoughts, support, and endless prayers. We pray that this is the beginning of a new start and all will continue to go well. God is so good! Thank you! And thank you to Ms. Davey and Mrs. Vo for making Carly’s first day of senior year and her transplant day extremely special. We’re truly blessed to have a wonderful support group and community like you to have by our sides. Thank you for all that you have done for us, especially Carly ? #setonstrong www.gofundme.com/caringforcarly
To make sure that was my own bone marrow in the picture, I checked the date and that it was indeed taken the day after I had my own operation.
An open letter
After a few weeks I finally mustered up the courage to send a letter to Carly. A few weeks go by and no response, but recently I got a reply back via snail mail.
She even included this picture of her holding a picture of her with my bone marrow. Classic!
I have yet to speak to her live, but I hope to reserve that special occasion for the day I meet her in person.
Be the match
If you’ve ever doubt you could make a difference, that you could change a life, I urge you to please register to Be the Match. There are countless people out there, somewhere, fighting cancer and waiting for a bone marrow match. The chances are slim, but nonetheless, a chance is all they’re asking for if you simply sign up. Never did I think I would be the one to save a life, but man does it feel good to be able to say that I did.