From marrow transplant recipient to volunteer – Emily comes full circle with Be The Match

Posted August 10th, 2016 by Be The Match and filed in News, Patient Stories
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It’s rare for a marrow transplant recipient to meet the Be The Match® employee who helped find their life-saving marrow match. But it happened this summer when 20-year-old transplant recipient Emily, met her Be The Match case manager, Michelle.Emily_Transplant_4.PNG (2)

It all started when Emily was only 8 years old, and diagnosed with a strep infection as the likely cause of her fevers. Armed with meds to treat the problem, Emily’s parents expected a quick recovery.  But that didn’t happen. Instead, Emily’s fever climbed to 104 degrees, requiring a trip to the emergency room and leading to a much more serious diagnosis: Emily had acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Emily underwent both radiation and chemotherapy in preparation for a marrow transplant – the only hope of a cure. She received her transplant in August 2004.

Working behind the scenes

Meanwhile, at Be The Match headquarters in Minneapolis, Michelle had been managing the process for Emily’s transplant—making arrangements for Emily’s donor and overseeing all the related details. When Michelle didn’t hear any more about Emily after the transplant, she took it as a good sign. “That means everything went smoothly—the cases you remember are the ones with multiple challenges.”

And Emily’s recovery did go smoothly. Today, she’s studying speech and hearing science at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to become an audiologist. She also volunteers as treasurer for UIUC’s chapter of Be The Match On Campus, helping raise funds and recruit new members to the registry.

Earlier this year, Emily was awarded a service internship with Be The Match in Minneapolis—where she was delighted to meet Michelle—her own case manager from 12 years earlier.

Closing the loop
Emily Kay and Michelle Skull_Cropped

“I never expected anyone from my transplant days would still be here,” says Emily. “When we met, there were hugs and smiles.” And Michelle felt the same. “Meeting Emily was a first for me and it’s a great reminder that our work at Be The Match truly gives people a second chance,” she says. “I’m very glad Emily found her way here.”

Learn about our service internship program and other exciting volunteer opportunities at

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