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Featured fundraiser: Matt Ciciretti

Matt hugging his son, Mark

One of the toughest challenges for a parent is watching their child endure pain. For Matt, that day came in September 2022. His son Mark experienced a severe nosebleed that caused him to pass out from blood loss. Doctors ran several tests on Mark. Although they couldn’t reach a definitive diagnosis, the doctors told the family that Mark’s marrow was at 50% of what it should be, which was concerning.

A parent’s nightmare

Several hospitalizations later, doctors ruled out leukemia and other rare blood disorders but they were still unable to pinpoint a diagnosis. With no definite answers, Mark started on a treatment plan similar to what a patient with aplastic anemia would experience. In May 2023, Mark was hospitalized with an uncontrollable nosebleed. He went home the next day but was rushed back to the hospital after throwing up massive amounts of blood. He spent a week in ICU. It was a traumatic experience for Mark and his parents.

As the fear began to set in, Matt made it his mission to find answers. He took a leave of absence from work to devote his time to figuring out how to help his son through this difficult journey. Doctors decided that a marrow transplant would be Mark’s best option. The search for a matching donor began.

A life-saving social post

Matt reached out to his network by creating a heartfelt post on LinkedIn stating; “In full transparency, we now find ourselves in a situation where we need to move forward with a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible, but we are finding that some of the matches we thought we had are not working out.”

Staff at NMDPSM replied to the post, hoping to lend a helping hand by connecting him with resources, answering questions and providing support. “The amount of support NMDP connected me with was incredible—it was truly life-saving,” said Matt. Finally, Mark’s transplant day arrived in November 2023.

After a speedy recovery, Mark was discharged in mid-December, just in time to spend Christmas with his family. “Mark didn’t stop smiling through all of this. This is what got me through it. It was a guidepost for how I should be—if Mark is happy and smiling and getting joy out of the basic day to day things in life then I should do the same,” said Matt.

A new perspective

Mark’s transplant journey was difficult but without NMDP, it felt impossible. This inspired Matt to start fundraising to help add more donors to the NMDP RegistrySM. When Matt found out how much it costs to add each new potential donor to the registry, he knew something had to be done. He also felt that there is so much misunderstanding around marrow donation and he wants to help spread awareness.

One post on social media connected Matt with the organization that helped save his son’s life. “I think about all the times we’ve scrolled past or ignored things like this, and then you go through it and see how many people don’t scroll through it—it was really eye opening and puts life in perspective,” he said.

He has now found a charitable organization that he can devote his time to. You can help support patients and families too by creating your own fundraiser or by giving a gift. Any amount helps put a cure within reach for a patient with a blood cancer or disorder.