Transplant recipient, Katie, at her wedding
Katie and Jimmy’s relationship started like a sweet middle-school crush. Jimmy happened to live three doors down from Katie’s mom in the same complex where Katie lived.
One day, Jimmy saw Katie walk across the courtyard and turn to smile at him—he was smitten. Then Katie’s mom told Jimmy that her daughter thought he was cute. But Jimmy wouldn’t officially meet Katie until they were both at a cookout—and both dating someone else.
Six months later, Jimmy ran into Katie again. They talked for hours and exchanged phone numbers. From that point on, they were inseparable. Still living in the same apartment building, they would flash their porch lights three times to let the other know they were home and I love you.
“She was God’s answered prayer to me—it felt like a dream,” Jimmy said.
The couple got married, got a house and a dog and started a loving life together. “If I had a rough day, Katie wouldn’t care if I came home and took a nap,” said Jimmy. “She was loving, caring, full of empathy—she made me a better person.”
A heartbreaking turn
The dream was soon interrupted. Katie was diagnosed with leukemia in March 2021 and had to have emergency surgery after experiencing blood clots from one of the chemotherapy treatments.
Jimmy stayed by her side, helping her heal and recover. And when the leukemia persisted, the doctors determined a blood stem cell transplant was Katie’s best option. Fortunately, Katie’s sister Julie was a suitable donor match and Katie had her stem cell transplant in July 2022.
Sadly, Katie experienced many complications and infections after her transplant and passed away August 7 from veno-occlusive disease, a rare but serious liver problem.
From hardship to hope
“Katie was a beautiful, wonderful soul, happy and positive through the end,” shared Katie’s sister Julie. “The doctors and nurses all loved her.”
Even though Katie and Julie lived 800 miles apart, they’ve been best friends their whole lives. Julie wanted to do something to honor Katie and came up with the idea of starting a Be The Match® fundraiser.
“The year and a half dealing with Katie’s leukemia diagnosis was devastating—it was an absolute emotional rollercoaster.” But Julie found a way to turn her own family’s hardship into hope for other families.
She started her fundraiser with the goal of raising $5,000 and has already raised over $8,500.
“Be The Match did so much for Katie—and for all of us—through Katie’s journey.” she said. “I’ll advocate for them for the rest of my life. We want Katie’s legacy to help others.”
Every dollar raised for Be The Match helps add more potential life-saving donors to the Be The Match Registry®, provides financial support to patients in need and funds critical research to improve transplant outcomes.