Thousands of leukemia and lymphoma patients worldwide go without a bone marrow transplant because they struggle to find a match.
Thankfully, there are organizations that help solve this problem, such as Be The Match. Be The Match is a non-profit organization that helps save lives by connecting patients with their donor match.
Be The Match Helps Save Lives
To donate bone marrow, one has to be 18 to 40 years old and meet the organization’s health guidelines.
Once they find a patient that matches the applicant, the donation can proceed and help save the life of individual battling cancer.
They also do fundraising activities and accept financial donations. In return, they provide extensive support to the patients and their families.
Be The Match has helped millions of cancer patients through bone marrow donation per se. One of these is a 3-year-old boy from Indiana who was saved by a young woman from Boston.
Jacob Struggles with Leukemia
At just 14 months old, Jacob Parry was diagnosed with leukemia. The doctors at Riley Hospital for Children suggested a blood stem cell transplant to treat the child’s cancer as it has aggressively infiltrated not only his blood and bone marrow but also his skin.
As little Jacob was struggling at the hospital a couple of years ago, young Rachel Buck was a senior college student at the University of Haven, preparing for the next chapter of her life.
One fateful day, they had a “Get in The Game” recruitment event in school and she joined the Be The Match Registry. Rachel didn’t have any second thoughts about joining as she also had a family member with cancer.
“One of the statistics that was mentioned that really stuck with me was that only about 30 percent of patients can find a match within their family, leaving the other 70 percent to rely on the registry – strangers, basically,” Rachel said.
“That really struck me because I couldn’t imagine having a family member in need like that and not being able to help them.”
Rachel Gets a Call that Can Save Jacob’s Life
A couple of years after, Rachel received a call that she was a match with a one-year-old leukemia patient.
She agreed to be Jacob’s donor right away. “Learning he was 14 months old at the time really struck me since I have two nieces close to his age. I couldn’t even imagine what his family was going through. From that moment, I was very eager to do what I could,” said Rachel.
Just a few days before Rachel’s birthday, she bravely faced the bone marrow transplant, which took only about an hour and half. Though the entire experience was intimidating, Rachel was positive she would do it again in a heartbeat.
Jacob Finally Meets His Donor
Two years after the procedure, Rachel finally met Jacob and his family. The Bravehearts baseball team was hosting events every week to encourage more people to be donors and they wanted to set up a meeting between her and her recipient, Jacob.
“I was insanely nervous,” Rachel confessed. I was worried they wouldn’t like me, or that Jacob, being a three-year-old would run away from me. They aren’t a family that seeks the limelight, but for everything they have been through, their strength and resilience deserve recognition.”
To Rachel’s surprise, Jacob was very excited and happy to meet her. She instantly connected with Jacob and his family.
In fact, her family and Jacob’s family spent the following weekend together. Rachel said she felt like she gained a whole family and couldn’t be more grateful for it.
People Hail Rachel as a ‘Young Hero’
Rachel’s brave efforts didn’t go unnoticed and unrecognized. A lot of people who saw their donor-recipient meeting thought she was a young hero and were very inspired by their story.
One of them was Andy Talley, founder of the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation. He was there when Rachel met with Jacob and his family.
“What an experience to see a lifesaver in-person showing the world how to give back. Marrow donation is truly a gift of life, and in this case, Rachel is a hero.”
Watch this video where bone marrow donor Rachel Buck meets her recipient, Jacob Parry:
If you want to help save a life signup for Be The Match Registry.
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