Jason Solomon was shocked when he was diagnosed with myelodysplasia (MDS) – often referred to as “pre-leukemia.” He was 59 years old and always healthy.
As a physician, Jason immediately spent time researching options and consulting with experts. Before a year had passed, the disease continued to progress and Jason began exploring bone marrow transplant options, where he found a perfect match on the registry.
On the other side of the country, a young man, Brandon Perloff, received the news that he was a match for a 59-year old male with a blood cancer.
Brandon had joined the Be The Match registry at a community drive a few years earlier that his mother was supporting. When contacted, Brandon shares, “I was excited! This was a unique opportunity and there was no question I would do it.”
Two weeks prior to Jason’s planned departure to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle for transplant, he caught his finger in a car door and the bleeding did not stop for over a day. Subsequent tests confirmed their worst fears: his MDS had converted to acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
The transplant would now need to be delayed by three to four months in order for chemotherapy treatments to achieve remission prior to transplant.
On December 23, 2010, Jason was able to undergo his transplant. He clearly remembers the party hat he was given and his nurses singing “Happy Birthday” to celebrate his new birthday.
As the infusion was completed with Brandon’s blood stem cells, Jason was on his way, hopeful for a healthy future with his wife and two adult sons. “I had to let go of planning and embrace a ‘one day at a time’ mindset,” says Jason, “but thinking about the future possibilities was also exciting.”
During the first year of recovery, Jason wondered about his lifesaving marrow donor.
On his one year anniversary of transplant, Jason sent a letter to his donor hoping he would respond. When the coordinator called Jason and gave him Brandon’s name, the two connected and began to realize a miraculous set of coincidences was unfolding.
First, Brandon was from Philadelphia, Jason’s hometown! They later learned that Brandon’s mom had gone to the same high school with Jason, just one year behind him and had memories of attending gatherings together. Jason had also met Brandon’s dad at Temple University 40 years before when both were undergraduates studying. A cadre of elementary school friends would come into focus as they delved further into the past culminating with Brandon’s godmother, a close family friend, was actually Jason’s first cousin!
Now celebrating five years of a new lease on life, Jason smiles in amazement at all that has transpired and the connection he and Brandon share. Jason marvels, “You just never know. Join the registry. Be The Match. Save a life. Meet a relative!”
Join us in the fight against cancer today at join.bethematch.org