Valerie – Chinese, Caucasian
Her journey in her own words…
“I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in 1993 at the age of 11 and was given a life expectancy of five years. Various options for initial treatment failed, and I survived month-to-month on red blood cell and platelet transfusions. Due to my severely compromised immune system, I was also at the risk of getting an infection that would land me in the hospital or worse.
The challenging search for a bone marrow match proved to be a unique and defining obstacle in my experience with aplastic anemia. My doctors told me that I had a one in a million chance of finding a match, due to my Chinese and Caucasian mixed ethnic background. Many bone marrow drives were held for me, always with an emphasis on recruiting those of minority background. While the efforts to find a match for me were immense, at the same time we were increasing the chances of every other sick person out there finding a match as well.
Seven years had passed with no match, and I had more or less given up hope of a cure. However, in the summer of 1999 after my freshman year of college, a bone marrow match was finally found! I later found out my donor, Julie, was a graduate student from Michigan in her mid-20s. I will forever be grateful to her for sacrificing herself for my sake, a stranger she didn’t even know. We have since had a chance to meet up several times and have a special bond and a shared thankfulness for life due to our experience.
Now eleven years post-transplant, I am enjoying a successful career, graduate school, great friends, family, life and everything that comes with it!”