Saving lives seems like a lofty endeavor for a tenth grader, but not Isabella. After catching the episode of Good Morning America where Robin Roberts celebrated 10 years of her blood stem cell transplant, Isabella decided to learn more. 20 years ago, Isabella’s dad George had a transplant through Be The Match®. Coincidentally, Gail Roboz, MD was both George and Robin’s doctor throughout their transplant journeys.
George had unsuccessfully tried to get in touch with his donor over the years. However, he was recently finally able to connect with this selfless man, a firefighter in California who came to New York to support efforts during 9/11.
Helping save lives for the holidays
Growing up, George would tell Isabella about his transplant experience but because it happened before she was born, Isabella did not understand the ins and outs of it. However, his story inspired her to learn more about Be The Match. She knew she wanted to help patients in need any way she possibly could. “The best gift to give is the gift of life,” said Isabella.
As a native New Yorker, Christmas is a big deal in Isabella’s hometown of Brooklyn. Thousands of people come just to look at the elaborate Christmas light displays. Isabella thought this would be the perfect opportunity to educate and get more people to join the Be The Match Registry®. “I hope that more people would consider signing up, so patients have access to more donors.”
She set up an information booth in her driveway during the holidays to spread awareness, sign people up for the registry and collect donations for her Be The Match fundraiser. Isabella explained to neighbors and visitors that “It’s so simple to join the registry and doesn’t take much time at all.”
Making a difference
30 people joined the registry and she raised nearly $3,500 for Be The Match. “This just goes to show what a community there is with all of this,” said Isabella. Her goal was to give other people the opportunity her dad had—one more chance at life. “You never know, you might need someone else to make a difference in your life someday.”
She enjoyed hearing the stories of survivors and supporters who stopped by her driveway. Isabella hopes to join the registry when she is old enough. “It would be paying back respect to the donor that saved my dad’s life,” she explains. In the meantime, she is continuing to do the work to help impact the lives of patients with blood cancers and diseases.
You can help support the cause and impact the lives of patients in need today by creating your own fundraising page.