“My hero, my warrior, my sister.” One patient saved by two donors who stepped up to make a differenceShow Content
Briana had been crowned Homecoming Queen and was in the top five percent of her graduating class. She’d just been accepted to the University of Texas at Austin. But in March 2014, her dreams for the future were shattered when she was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia. Her only hope for a cure was to find a matching marrow donor—a stranger who would come forward to save her life.
“Instead of preparing for college, I had to watch all of my friends begin without me,” she said. “It was a struggle to accept things weren’t going the way I planned.”
Briana’s doctors searched the Be The Match Registry for a donor, and in December, Briana and her family rejoiced when a matched donor was found. She received her transplant, and her faith in the future was restored. The family’s focus shifted to supporting Briana on her long road to recovery.
But their hopes were dashed again, when the donated cells did not engraft. The transplant had bought her time, but it had not been a success.
Briana had to find the strength inside herself to keep fighting. “My mind was just focused on getting through each day, not all the days to come,” she said. “I had come too far to just give up.”
Fortunately, another donor was found. And in March 2015, after going through another round of chemotherapy and radiation, Briana received her second transplant. Despite complications—including infections that required multiple surgeries—the second transplant was a success.
Today, Briana is a healthy 20-year-old with a unique perspective on life. “I went through something most people my age never have to experience, or even think about. I know now what kind of a woman I want to be. I’m going to change the world. There is nothing I cannot do.”
Briana’s transplant journey came full circle in November 2016 when she got to meet both of her donors, Jose and Fernando.
Her first donor, Jose, had been disappointed that his donation had not been a cure—but he was grateful to be part of the process that got Briana to her second transplant.
“The most memorable part of donating was the feeling that I was part of a life-saving experience,” Jose said. “I finally had a purpose in life to save someone else in this world.”
Briana’s second donor, Fernando, was equally moved by the experience. “The real heroes are the patients who overcome their illness, which affects them, that causes them anguish and pain. That is why Briana is my hero, my warrior and my sister.”