Naperville residents recently lined up outside of Nothing Bundt Cakes for a bittersweet event – they came to swab their cheeks and rally around a recent Plainfield North High School graduate who is fighting for her life. Seventeen-year-old Olivia Gardner is currently seeking a cure to a life-threatening blood disease called aplastic anemia, a rare condition that requires frequent blood and platelet transfusions because the body is unable to produce enough new red cells, white cells or platelets. The condition causes fatigue and can lead to uncontrolled bleeding and frequent infections.
Olivia is an employee of Nothing Bundt Cakes and plans to study at DePaul University in 2022 without fear or uncertainty of her condition putting her well-being at risk. In partnership with Be The Match, the National Marrow Donor Program, she is currently seeking a matching blood stem cell donor who could save her life and cure her of the rare blood disease.
Be The Match is a global leader in facilitating bone marrow transplants in order to save the lives of patients battling blood cancers and disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell and 70 other blood or genetic diseases. Be The Match has enabled over 105,000 blood stem cell transplants, including almost 6,500 in 2020 alone, in order to give patients hope for a better, healthier future.
A blood stem cell transplant could cure Olivia’s aplastic anemia, but she doesn’t currently have a matching donor in her family or on the Be The Match registry, which searches millions of potential donors. “There’s really nothing more that we can do for her”, Olivia’s mother, Kathy, said, “We can only give her so much medicine. Transplant is really the only option now."
Because of Olivia’s lack of a matching donor, her employer, Nothing Bundt Cakes, made every effort to be part of the solution. Nothing Bundt Cakes hosted a Be The Match Registry drive and provided free confetti mini bundt cakes to individuals who joined the Be The Match Registry.
Olivia is among thousands of patients still awaiting a life-saving donor to help cure them of life-threatening diseases. A simple cheek swab could help Olivia find a matching donor, and the process to donate bone marrow or blood stem cells is far easier than many people expect.
How can you help? Individuals ages 18-44 years old can request a kit to be mailed to their home by visiting https://my.bethematch.org/ForOlivia. A simple swab of each cheek is all that is required to join the registry. Potential donors are only called for further testing if identified as a match for a patient in need of a transplant.