On May 2, 2018, Reese received a bone marrow transplant. An 18-year-old girl, somewhere in the US, selflessly donated her own marrow to save a 4-year-old girl she had never met. Two strangers who would be forever intertwined, now sharing the same blood DNA.
UCSF chose Reese’s donor through Be the Match. We knew that Reese and her donor shared the same blood type and 12 of the same human leukocyte antigens (HLA). HLA are proteins—or markers—on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses HLA to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not. Currently, science allows us to look at 12 of these markers, and Reese and her donor share all 12 (a 12/12 match.) Reese was incredibly blessed to find an unrelated donor who was so young and also shared this many HLA markers. And this incredible person wanted to help our daughter. My heart has never been so grateful.
That is how much we knew of this angel, this hero who saved Reese’s life. Until now.
Last week, I received an email. And this is how we met Kate.
On May 1, 2018, this incredible woman was donating her marrow, pictured above. These life saving cells were then flown immediately to UCSF, where Reese was waiting. Reese’s own marrow had been destroyed, intentionally, using the harshest of chemotherapy to wipe her clean of that which she needs to live. I remember the moment I heard that the cells were in the building, that they had safely ARRIVED. My daughter’s new chance at life. “The cells go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah,” sang Reese.
Reese had a lot of “potential” donors, many of them in Germany (Chris is German.) A couple Germans were finalists in the long process of elimination to get to the perfect donor. We knew that our donor lived close by, here in the US. But we never dreamed how close.
Kate lives just over an hour away in WISCONSIN, where she is now a junior in college. This whole time, she has been just north of us, this blows my mind! It was in college that Kate registered with Be the Match. She explained our fate to me, “In the first semester of my freshman year, I participated in a bone marrow swab drive and then a little while later I was identified as a potential match for your daughter!” Praise God.
I know that you are wondering the same thing as Reese. “When do I get to meet Kate?!?”
Kate and I are working on these details now. I would love for this meeting to happen during this most incredible holiday season of thanks. Because I know in my heart, this incredible act of generosity and kindness, is humanity at it’s very best. What a blessing to us all. I’ll keep you posted! God bless Kate.
For more information on the donation process, click HERE.
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