Jasmine was just 16-years-old when she came face-to-face with the harsh reality of blood disease. After a lengthy battle with sickle cell anemia, Jasmine’s best friend, Kiki, passed away. For some, such an experience would be defeating, leaving a person hopeless. For Jasmine, the death of her best friend filled her with a fuel to help others.
To call Jasmine an incredible young woman would be an understatement. Whether she is volunteering with her church, winning basketball awards (despite her small 5-foot-3 frame) or preparing for her next journey at Officer Candidate School for the U.S. Marine Corps, she lives a truly inspiring life.
But perhaps the most inspiring thing about Jasmine is that, even years after the passing of her best friend, she embraced the opportunity to help a little girl just like Kiki. At age 18, she joined the Be The Match Registry® as a potential bone marrow donor with a simple swab of the cheek.
A couple years later she got the call that she was a matching donor for a patient. Jasmine was amazed and newly energized as a potential bone marrow donor. “Initially I was shocked. I thought to myself, ‘Is this really happening?’” She quickly called back and said, “I’m doing this! If I can donate, then I’m doing it.”
Soon after, Jasmine was confirmed as the best matching donor for her recipient. She didn’t hesitate when asked whether she would proceed with the donation. In August 2014, Jasmine followed through with her commitment.
Her recipient, a 9-year-old girl with sickle cell anemia, was only a year older than Jasmine was when she first met her friend Kiki. Because of this, and because the little girl shared Kiki’s disease, Jasmine’s donation felt especially personal.
Of her recipient, Jasmine remarked, “she is probably one of the strongest people I don’t know. She changed my life and I haven’t even met her. To go through something so serious, at such a young age, is amazing.”
If both parties agree and the transplant center allows, a donor and recipient can meet one another, but must wait one year after transplant. Jasmine is hopeful she will have the opportunity to meet her young recipient someday.
July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month, and Jasmine hopes her story will inspire more young African Americans to join the Be The Match Registry and stay committed to donating to any patient in need.
“If we have the ability to help someone, it is our responsibility,” Jasmine said. “If you’re healthy, then this is a very easy process you should want to do. It hurts a little bit, but think about the result: you’re giving somebody another chance at life.”