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All you have to do is text HERO4 to 61474. You’ll fill out a questionnaire, get a swab kit in the mail, then you send it back.
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Saturday is World Marrow Donor Day. It’s a time set aside to thank the thousands of people who have signed up to be a bone marrow or stem cell donor for those in need.
One teenage girl and her mom from Sinton know just how important a lifesaving donation can be.
At the age of seven, Laynie Houser was diagnosed with aplastic anemia which is a rare and life-threatening disease. Her only chance at survival was to receive a bone marrow transplant.
“We prayed that a stranger would come forward and give the gift of life to our daughter, and they did,” said Holly Houser, Laynie’s mom.
Those prayers were eventually answered, thanks to Alyssa Kohls from Wisconsin. Kohls is a surgical nurse who signed up to be a bone marrow donor, not knowing that she would one day become a match for a little girl in Sinton.
Today, Laynie is 13-years-old and thriving. She is no longer sick and is back to doing the things she loves.
“I’m doing very well! I actually just got back from Volleyball practice,” Laynie said.
I spoke with Laynie and her mom about their journey and the gift of life that made it possible during a Zoom call.
“It changed our lives, gave us hope, fulfilled the promise of a future. It’s a remarkable gift,” Holly Houser said.
Just last year, our camera was there at the Corpus Christi International Airport when Laynie and her donor Alyssa met each other in person for the first time after the transplant.
It was an emotional moment, marking the end to one chapter and the beginning of another.
“It was really, I think fulfilling. For three years I had this thing that was part of me and when I met Alyssa, that was the end,” Laynie Houser said.
“It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to meet the person who was a stranger who volunteered to save the life of a child,” Holly said.
Holly said they continue to keep in touch with Alyssa, who was once a stranger and is now considered family.
There are other children who might not be as lucky as Laynie because they are still waiting to find their perfect match for a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.
“When a patient’s family reaches out to our organization, it’s basically their last chance for hope, last chance for survival,” said Leticia Mondragon, who is with Gencure in partnership with Be the Match registry.
She said there are often misconceptions about the transplant procedure and that it might be a painful experience.
“80-percent of all procedures now is a peripheral stem cell procedure similar to platelet, plasma, or a red blood donation,” said Mondragon.
Be the Match has now been able to do 100,000 transplants because of those who have stepped up to the plate to become a part of someone’s cancer cure, but they need more donors to sign up.
“You can be there to save someone’s life. You can be the person who said, I’ve saved someone’s life today,” said Laynie Houser.
All you have to do is text HERO4 to 61474. You’ll fill out a questionnaire, get a swab kit in the mail, then you simply send it back.
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