Bone marrow donor and recipient meet after lifesaving transplant

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Nash’s decision potentially saved a life and made for an emotional meeting

ABC NEWS, November 22 , 2023

Eboni Nash’s mother Teresa describes her daughter as “selfless” and “compassionate.”

“I’ve seen her give up her last dollar cause a friend needed it,” she said in a video produced by Be The Match for The National Marrow Donor Program, an organization that facilitates blood stem cell transplants and maintains a donor registry.

It was that selflessness that brought her to donate bone marrow to a stranger, a decision which potentially saved a life, and made for an emotional meeting years later.

Nash first entered a DNA sample with the Be The Match registry in 2020, according to the organization, in order to determine if she would be a match to donate bone marrow to a patient in need.

For the last 11 years, “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts has reported extensively on bone marrow transplants after undergoing a successful transplant herself in 2012. Last year, “GMA” partnered with “Be The Match” as part of the “One Match, Second Chance” series in order to continue to raise awareness on how to participate in the bone marrow donations.

Elsewhere in 2020, Amya Hood, who is now 16, was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia after suffering from an unrelenting bloody nose.

The stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic on the American health care system made circumstances even more grim for Hood and her family, whose hospital visits were highly regulated.

After a relapse of her diagnosis one year later, it became clear Amya would need a bone marrow transplant.

After looking and failing to find a match in her twin sister and mother, Be The Match found two potential donors for Amya’s transplant: One of them was Nash. According to Be The Match, “70% of patients don’t have a fully matched donor in their family.” The Be The Match registry helps to find potential donors in scenarios like Amya’s.

Nash’s DNA was a perfect “10-for-10” match with Amya, according to Amya’s mother.

The bone marrow transplant went ahead in September 2021. Amya said she was “so happy and thankful.”

Nash, speaking in the video, said, “I just think that there’s a purpose that I got a call, there’s a purpose I signed up, and now I’m a match? Out of millions of people on the registry?”

She said she “felt like a superstar” for the duration of the medical process working with Be The Match.

Nash detailed the entire donation process on her TikTok account, which garnered a following and features a video with over 509,000 views (the caption of that video includes a registry code and instructions to sign up to be a donor with Be The Match), as well as a similar video boasting over 700,000 views.

According to Be The Match, Nash, through her videos, helped register almost 2,000 potential donors for the registry, one of whom was able to eventually donate bone marrow as well. “GMA” first reported on Nash and other young people’s use of social media to raise awareness for donor registration earlier this year.

A year after Amya’s transplant, in late 2022, Nash received an email from Be The Match letting her know the recipient of her bone marrow was interested in meeting.

“I’m so happy. I’m so excited to meet her,” said Nash in a TikTok video at the time.

Amya’s mother Carolyn Lee said during her daughter’s recovery process, the donor was never far from their minds.

“Oh we had thought about the donor the whole time,” she said. “From the get-go we were like, ‘When will we be able to find out about the donor?’ That was even before the transplant.”

In a text message Amya later sent to Nash after the two were connected, which Nash shared in the video she wrote, “I know I was the one fighting, but you’re the reason I’m done fighting.”

“Thank you so much,” she wrote, according to Nash. “I get to live to see my kids and I get married and graduate because of you. You did an amazing thing for a stranger you didn’t even know and that’s awesome.”

The pair were finally afforded a chance to meet at The One Forum, hosted by Be The Match, which took place earlier this month.

“I can just imagine seeing her and wondering how quickly I can get to her without falling, and without knocking her over,” Nash said ahead of the event, which took place in Minneapolis.

Amya shared a similar sentiment. “I’m just so very excited to meet her and run up on the stage, give her a big hug and never let her go,” she said.

When they met onstage at the event, they both expressed thanks for one another.

“This is our purpose, we’re supposed to be here,” Nash said, adding that she was “grateful” and “humbled” by the experience.

Added Amya, “I’m so happy for you to be a part of my life now, and for our journey to begin.”

Source: ABC NEWS

Link: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Wellness/bone-marrow-donor-recipient-meet-after-lifesaving-transplant/story?id=104988822

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