Kenton could’ve never imagined that one lecture from his high school history teacher would change the course of his life. After hearing the story of his teacher’s bone marrow donation, Kenton joined the Be The Match Registry® in 2018 at a live drive during
a high school dance.
Months later, he received a call that he was a match for a young girl with a rare auto-immune disease. “It was one of the best days of my life,” said Kenton.
There was no question in his mind, Kenton immediately said yes to donating his bone marrow. At the time, he was studying Biology at the University of Kansas in hopes of becoming a doctor. It’s something he has strived for because of his dad, who suffers with common variable immunodeficiency disorder. Kenton watched his dad’s health struggles throughout the years, “that really impacted me to do my best to try to make a change in other people’s lives, so that they didn’t have to go through what my dad and my family had to go through.”
In January 2019, Kenton underwent the bone marrow donation procedure. To his surprise, there was very little down time and he only had to take one day off from classes. He had no idea that the girl he matched with was Laila, a 10-year-old with a big heart and lots of team spirit. Known as one of the Blues Hockey Team’s “biggest fans”, Laila used her platform to encourage the community to join the Be The Match Registry.
For months, the pair exchanged letters but Kenton would not receive an update on Laila’s condition until six months after the donation because of standard protocol.
“At the end of the letter that Laila had written me, she said, ‘You’re my best friend, whether you like it or not,” and they indeed became best friends.
The day finally came where Kenton and Laila would meet in person for the very first time during the Be The Match® Soiree in December 2019. It was an emotional moment for them both, Laila ran into Kenton’s arms as the audience clapped and cheered.
“I feel like Laila is my closest friend and I’ve only seen her for about 30 minutes now,” said Kenton. Now Laila is like a little sister to Kenton. He visits her and her family often. This has been a defining moment in his life. Kenton was a college student inspired by people in his life and now one cheek swab has made a life-saving impact. You can make an impact too! To learn more about how to join the Be The Match Registry, visit here.