Taylor after receiving her blood stem cell transplant
Like many young adults, Taylor Brown decided to celebrate her birthday at a local microbrewery, alongside her friends and family.
But this day didn’t represent her entrance into this world—it marked the moment she had been given a second chance at life. Five years ago (to the week), Taylor had received a life-saving blood stem cell transplant from a selfless donor. And now, to celebrate this milestone, she had organized her support system to raise a glass—and raise funds—so more patients can get a chance to have their own re-birthday.
During her third year of college at Arizona State University (ASU), Taylor noticed she was becoming extremely fatigued and nauseous. At first, she simply chalked it up to her hectic schedule of classes and extra-curricular activities.
When spots started to appear on her body, she decided to get things checked out by a doctor. Her labs came back and delivered a harsh blow: all of her blood counts had completely plummeted. Taylor was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia (SAA), a disease in which the bone marrow does not make enough blood cells for the body.
Hope and hardship
Taylor immediately started treatments to defeat the disease, but ultimately, they failed. A bone marrow transplant became her best—and perhaps only—chance for survival. But could they find a suitable donor? Luckily, they did: a generous man from Poland who had joined the Be The Match Registry® stayed true to his commitment and donated his blood stem cells to Taylor.
In January 2018 she received her transplant. Unfortunately, recovery was long and hard. Taylor developed graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a condition where the donated cells start to attack the transplant recipient’s own healthy cells. And when she returned to school to finish her degree, life on campus no longer looked, or felt, the same. All her friends had already graduated by then. She also found it hard both in class and among her peers—especially with her new limitations and experience battling cancer.
Nevertheless, she continued to focus on recovery and getting healthy—and she credits her loving, supportive parents for much of her success.
Taylor, alongside her mom and dad, as they celebrated her 5-year transplant anniversary
A perfect match
Her own journey through cancer and to transplant motivated Taylor to help other patients needing a transplant. She started to volunteer for Be The Match® to help recruit potential donors. After returning to school to finish her degree, Taylor spoke and presented in a lot of her classes, educating her peers about Be The Match and the need for more registry members. She brought along swab kits and many students joined the registry because of her efforts.
After finishing her degree in biomedical engineering, Taylor realized that The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match® would be the perfect career step. She was already passionate about the mission, both personally and professionally. She officially moved from volunteer to employee in March 2021.
Five years—and a fundraiser
For years Taylor knew she wanted a party to mark her 5-year rebirthday. Gradually, the special milestone evolved into an opportunity to not only celebrate her success, but also support Be The Match and thank everyone who helped her along the journey.
“I would not be here today without my donor and without the global effort of registries like Be The Match,” noted Taylor. “This milestone felt impossible when I was in the thick of treatment, but I now have so much gratitude for the experience and how it has shaped my life and passions.”
Taylor turned her rebirthday event into a Be The Match fundraiser, complete with a silent auction and a Be The Match swag booth. Friends from all walks of life came to celebrate with her at Modist Brewery, as well as her parents. In fact, her mom surprised her by secretly flying in to join the fun. Having both of her parents there was very meaningful, said Taylor, as they were crucial to her recovery. Her dad had helped with a lot of logistics, like tracking medicines in spreadsheets. And her mom stayed by her side during the recovery and (many) post-transplant appointments.
Taylor's fundraising and recruitment table at her 5-year transplant anniversary event
The event was a big success: Many local businesses donated items to the silent auction, and Modist Brewery donated $1/pour for the entire event. By night’s end, 13 potential life-savers had joined the registry. Before, during and after the event, Taylor also shared her personal fundraising page with her friends and family—ultimately raising more than $2,000 in total!
Want to join Taylor and raise money to send hope to more patients? Get in on the fundraising action yourself and create a page of your own.