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TODAY Show celebrates donors for sharing kindness

NBC’s TODAY Show recently featured two courageous transplant patients: the young woman, Markel, who met her life-saving marrow donor, Shauna for the first time in New York, and 7-year-old Anna, who received her transplant last fall. (Watch the full  segment!).When they first learned that they needed marrow transplants, both Markel and Anna had family members tested to see if they could donate, but neither Markel’s twin brother nor Anna’s 4-year-old sister was a match. They would each need to find a stranger who would be a genetic match—and be willing and available to donate.

They turned to Be The Match for help, and from a registry of 13.5 million potential donors, Anna had just two ideal matches—but hopes were dashed when both of them turned out to be unavailable to donate.

Anna’s only hope was to choose the next best match, despite an increased risk of complications. Fortunately, an appropriately matched European donor was found and Anna received her life-saving transplant. Today she is doing well.

Markel and her donor, Shauna were able to meet and celebrate in person amidst hugs and tears of joy. “I can’t thank her enough for sharing her kindness towards me and I urge everyone else to share their kindness, even the littlest amount that you have,” said Markel.

“It was honestly a very painless and easy process,” said Markel’s donor, Shauna. “It was just such an incredible thing to think, ‘wow, there’s someone out there who has my blood and cells in her, and that helped her beat this terrible disease.’”

Anna’s family also hopes to meet their donor, but they must remain anonymous to each other for at least a year. “I think about our donor a lot,” said Melissa, Anna’s mom. “So I hope to meet him one day, and tell him from the bottom of my heart how grateful I am to him for saving our daughter’s life.”

“It started with swabbing a cheek, and ended up being a long life for a beautiful little girl,” said Tim, Anna’s dad. “This year we’ve received random acts of kindness, deliberate acts of kindness, and anonymous acts of kindness. I think a good thing for our family, this year and beyond, is to share kindness.”

You too can share kindness and make a difference in patients’ lives.