Winning the Lottery of Life

Posted November 5th, 2013 by Be The Match and filed in Patient Stories
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Z with caption

Alyssa L. fell madly in love with a boy from work – and then she adopted him.

About six years ago, Alyssa, a medical social worker, started working at a residential facility for seriously ill children without homes. There she encountered a sick little boy who now goes by the name of “Z.”

Not yet two years old, the toddler was languishing in the facility as he awaited a bone marrow transplant. Z suffered from Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), a rare blood disorder that affects children. In his short life, he’d already lived through a lifetime of hardship – and was utterly alone in the world. His fragile immune system required him to be isolated from other children in the facility, but he could hear them playing.

During her shifts there self evident Alyssa spent as much time as she could with Z while providing care to 11 other ill children, including tiny premature

babies. She recalls the days just before and during his transplant as the most difficult. “That’s when I really got to know him,” she says. “And when they asked me to sit with him in the hospital during his transplant process, I absolutely fell in love with him.”

The little boy’s recovery was slow and challenging, but Alyssa was a constant presence. One night in the hospital, he developed a very high fever. “I sat with him as he shivered and sweated, watching Elmo on TV, and I really believed he was going to die—but I prayed that he wouldn’t,” recalls Alyssa. Although she tried to hide her despair, one of her tears fell on Z in his hospital bed—and the little boy reached out to comfort her.

Little by little, Z grew stronger. As Alyssa witnessed his progress and spirit, her love for the little boy deepened. When Z turned 5, the family decided to adopt him. They welcomed him to his first real home with their whole hearts.

The new family of three celebrated their first Christmas together with the usual treats and traditions—and all of it was new to Z. “We discovered he’d never even heard of Santa,” says Alyssa. “My husband and I were like kids on Christmas morning—we were just so excited for him that we had to wake him up!”

Today, to the family’s relief, Z is a healthy, happy and sometimes sassy 8-year-old boy. “He went from such a dark place to being so funny, smart and well-adjusted,” says Alyssa. “And he’s proud to be the fastest player on his soccer team!” He’s also a proud big brother to the family’s newest addition: Jack, age 2.

At his 6th birthday party, Z received a special gift: a chance to meet his marrow donor. “She’s an EMT and just a wonderful person,” says Alyssa. “And Z understood what he gave her—he says, ‘She gave me the good blood.’”

With two healthy sons, every day is a little like Christmas to the family. Z loves making pumpkin bread for the holidays and learning about all their family traditions.

“We’re just so grateful to Z’s donor, and to Be The Match for finding her,” says Alyssa. “There are so many ways to give, but giving to an organization like Be The Match is concentrated good. It’s a chance to help so many children and families win the lottery of life – like we did. And now we have the child of our dreams.”

You have the power to give a child the gift of life. Learn more.

29 Responses to “Winning the Lottery of Life”

  1. Diane Rohrbach says:

    I just love this story!!!

  2. Diane says:

    What an incredible story! God Bless you for taking in this child with so much love. Our son was blessed with a liver transplant from an organ donor at age 2, so we understand your trials and milestones. I am on the registry and await the day when I can return the “gift of life” that was so graciously given to my son.

  3. Lori says:

    Truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing Z’s story. As I wipe my tears of joy, I thank the Lord there are people like you and your family.

    God Bless you all. 🙂

  4. Kate says:

    Such an inspiration, what a beautiful story.

    • Shirley says:

      I am so touched by this beautiful story of love and destiny. The world needs more people like you and your little soldier Z. May you live long and healthy lives full of the joy you have brought each other!

  5. Melissa says:

    I cried tears of joy reading your story. Thank you for sharing the message of love and hope. Your family is beautiful!

  6. Deanna says:

    As I wipe away the tears of joy I am reminded that we all can make a difference in someone’s life if we just open our hearts and our minds. Way to go Alyssa and family, Z will bless you in ways you could never imagine!

  7. Stacy says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. I so needed this today to put things back in perspective. God bless you.

  8. Jane says:

    This is a wonderful story, it made my day!

  9. Yolandé says:

    To the EMT who registered, I say thank you! I think it is so important, particularly for African Americans, to be registered with Be The Match for this very reason. I have been on the registry since 1996 and have hoped for the opportunity to give life to someone in need. You are indeed a blessing.

    To Alyssa and your husband, I say THANK YOU!!! It takes a lot of courage and love to extend beyond yourselves to the needs of this amazing little boy “Z”. You are a wonderful example we all should take note of. My prayers are with you all.

  10. Avon says:

    I loved the story too!

    I hope the MODERATOR of this website notices this:
    The family’s full real name is in the 4th-to-last paragraph, and surely that’s not intentional (because it was abbreviated elsewhere). Better change it to “L.” ?!!

  11. Laura says:

    What a great couple. To take on such a challenge and turn it into such a treasure! The love evident in this story is so overwhelming! What a lucky boy and what a lucky couple to have found each other and turning heartache into a fairytale. Stories like this renew my faith in the people of this world! In a dark time, people like these are the lights that keep our world shining. My prayers and love go with you and your donor!

  12. Lisa says:

    Great story! Alyssa, you and your husband are a God send! Thanks for not only sharing your story, but also for opening up your hearts and home to Z! This is such an inspiring story of love and selflessness! May God’s blessings be with you always!

  13. Brenda says:

    I’ts people like you and your family that defines love. My son Kauner is in the process of finding a donor for a bone marrow transplant and reading your story is so encouraging. I pray many blessings for you and your family.

  14. Christopher Winn says:

    I am so joyful after reading your story about Z. It is wonderful and reassuring to know that this world have blessed people like you and your husband.

    I had leukemia (AML) and had a stem cell transplant in Jan 18 2010 and I am in remission. My sister gave me the gift of life.

    Blessed are those who come in the name of The Lord Our God.

  15. Barb G says:

    May all of you enjoy a happy and healthy life. This is a joyful story.

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