OHSU Doernbecher patient and cancer survivor Stella Monteverde-Cakebread, 10, will meet the man who saved her life at a celebration designed to thank friends and community members, and to encourage more ethnic minorities to participate in the Be the Match National Marrow Donor Program.
The celebration, which comes nearly two years after Stella’s transplant, is free and will feature DJ Jimbo, a slide show and, most importantly, the opportunity to become a bone marrow donor with a simple cheek swab.
Sunday, April 15, from 1 to 4 p.m.
McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. Portland, OR 97211
Stella Monteverde, a fifth-grader at Sabin School, was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia when she was 8 years old. Due to the aggressive nature of this type of leukemia, Stella's only chance for cure was a bone marrow transplant from a volunteer, unrelated donor.
Because of her mixed ethnicity — Spanish, Peruvian and Europe Caucasian – her chances of finding a compatible match were slim.
"It can be extremely difficult and take months to identify a compatible bone marrow donor for a patient, especially in cases of mixed ethnicity or for non-Caucasian ethnicities that are currently underrepresented in the donor registry," said Allison Franco, R.N., B.S.N., pediatric bone marrow transplant coordinator at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital.
But Stella and the OHSU Doernbecher Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant team beat the odds, and her "miracle," Travis Black, 29, of Washington, D.C., whose parents are of Mexican and European Caucasian descent, and his wife, Jillian, are flying to Portland to meet her and help inspire others to join the national bone marrow donor registry.
"After a transplant, patients and donors are required to wait a minimum of one year before there is the opportunity to possibly become un-anonymous to each other. It's a very special event when a patient and donor actually have the chance to meet in person — a true celebration of life," explained Franco.
"We are hoping to inspire our community to register, to help give others a second chance by seeing what this gift looks like. We are also saying thank you to all of our support through these past two years," said Stella's mother, Dayna Cakebread.
Stella has joined Team Be the Match to encourage more people to become bone marrow donors. Participate and learn more.