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Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Bone Marrow Transplant with a Happy Ending

Wedding bells are ringing but this story begins over twenty years ago when Donna Megino was just nine years and had been diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.

I had the pleasure of meeting Donna and her family at an AADP Volunteer Appreciation Day Bowling Party two years ago. Her mom told me that at one point her doctors sent her home to die but her mother refused to give up hope. She tended to Donna and slowly she got better.

Donna's last hope was a bone marrow transplant but nobody in her family was a match.

Miraculously a match was found through an anonymous donor in the National Marrow Donor Program Registry. A second miracle was that it only took three months to find her a match. Many patients have to wait up to two years to locate a match. Most never find one. A third miracle was that Sanjay joined the registry at a marrow donor drive held on Donna's behalf. That almost never happens. I've heard of only three instances where this has happened. The fourth miracle was finding a matching donor who was from a completely different ethnic group than Donna. Sanjay is Indian and Donna is Fillipina. Because bone marrow is matched by tissue type and not blood, matches are almost always found within the same ethnic group.

Sanjay and Donna finally met years after her transplant.

Donna's mom told me that Sanjay Yadav was simply walking down a street in San Francisco when he saw a donor drive taking place. He decided to stop and register and shortly after was contacted and told he was a match. He donated and gave Donna a second chance to grow up and live a life longer than nine short years.

Donna now works for the Asian American Donor Program, the same recruitment group that helped her to find Sanjay by hosting donor drives on her behalf around the Bay Area more than 20 years ago.

And today, today Donna is a marrying the love of her life. Here's a video of the two about-to-be-newlyweds talking about Donna's survival and their love.

Congratulations to Donna and Leo! Wishing you both every happiness that life has to offer :D

For more stories about Donna visit these links:

Newark Woman Finds Her Match — Twice

20-Year Leukemia Survivor to Wed; Bay Area Woman Gives Back to Others Facing Similar Plight


As a Certified SMART (Social Media Active Response Team) Volunteer for Be The Match I'd like to encourage anyone who hasn't joined the National Marrow Donor Registry to do so.

If you're already a registered donor I can only say thank you and ask you to please encourage your family and friends to join as well. Also if you've moved since joining please make sure your contact info is up to date at this LINK.

If you aren't a registered donor please consider becoming one. Registering is pain free and takes just a few minutes whether at a live donor drive or if you order a test kit through the mail. Donating is most often done through a process called PBSC similar to donating plasma. For a few days you are given a medicine that overproduces stem cells so they are released into your blood stream. A week later the cells are collected by taking the blood from one arm and putting it back in your other arm minus the stem cells. It looks like this:

Peripheral  Blood Stem Cell Donation also known as PBSC

If you have any questions about donating please let me know. If I don't know the answer I will find it out for you through my contact at Be The Match (aka The National Marrow Donor Program.)

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