How Does My Gift Help?
Monetary gifts like yours help our day to day operations in collecting, processing, and storing donated cord blood stem cells from Hawai`i. It gives us greater ability to reach potential donor families, communicate effectively with our volunteer collection staff, and improve current processes.
Gifts from corporations and organizations, like Hyundai Motor America have also allowed our program to expand even more. From 2012 - 2015, several generous grants from Hyundai Motor America’s nonprofit organization, Hope on Wheels, were given to Kapi`olani Medical Center’s pediatric cancer program, which in turn were used to support the Hawai`i Cord Blood Bank. These gifts allowed us to extend our public cord blood bank program beyond O`ahu to our first neighboring island site: Maui Memorial Medical Center. It is our hope to someday make this life-saving program available to the entire state of Hawai’i.
But most important of all, gifts help us have a great impact on the population we seek to serve. Patients like Bea and Grace, whose story is provided below by the National Marrow Donor Program, have benefitted directly from your generosity by having been given the gift of life, a second time.
Jenny tells her story
"I was pregnant with Grace when we found out that Bea had a serious immune disorder. Bea was about 15 months old at the time. She hadn’t been sick that much as a baby – some of her immune system was working, but not all. But then she got thrush and lost two pounds. Our pediatrician wanted to wait a week to see if she’d gain weight, but we were too worried to wait. We took her to the emergency room.
That’s when we found out she had a kidney infection that had gone unnoticed because she didn’t produce a fever. The doctors thought she might have had the infection for a long time, and they told us that the issue was bigger than a kidney infection. They sent us to an immunologist. There was a lot of bloodwork done, a lot of questions asked."
Two girls, one diagnosis
"Finally they told us she had severe combined immunodeficiency and that she needed to have an umbilical cord blood transplant as soon as possible. They also told us there was a 25% chance that the baby I was carrying could have the same disorder. Two days after Grace was born, we learned that she did. By this time Bea was being treated by Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg at Duke University Medical Center. We made plans for both girls to receive cord blood transplants."
Donated cord blood brings new life
"It didn’t take long to find matching cord blood units for both girls. They told us Grace had a perfect match and Bea’s was one number away from a perfect match. Bea received her transplant on June 3, 2010, and Grace received hers the next day. Bea was two years old, and Grace was just two months old. They were in adjoining rooms at the hospital, and my husband took care of Bea while I took care of Grace. The doctors told us transplant day would be pretty uneventful, like a blood transfusion. It’s just a bag of blood that goes into their system and that’s it. But it was a special time for me. I felt like that cord blood was bringing us hope. It brought my girls new life. It was a happy day, not scary. We were giving our girls a chance for a better life."
My message to expectant mothers
"That’s what I want other mothers expecting babies to know – you’re giving someone hope. If you have the chance to donate your baby’s umbilical cord blood to a public cord blood bank, please consider it. You can give someone else another chance at life – be a mother for another. It’s such an easy thing to do, and it means so much."
The chance to do normal things
"Our family relocated from Los Angeles to Durham, N.C., to be near the girls’ doctor and transplant center. When we moved here, our focus was all on Bea and Grace’s recovery. Today, the girls are doing great. We’ve been able to think more of our family’s future, building a life here. I plan to begin studying to be a nurse practitioner and my husband is starting a photography business here.
Grace had her first fever a few weeks ago and she fought it off with her own immune system. The girls have about 25% to go for all their blood counts to be where they should be, but when they had bloodwork done at 9 months post transplant, their immune systems were at normal levels. That is a really big deal.
That means we can start doing normal things. Dr. Kurtzberg said they can go to preschool in the fall! Maybe they can even go in our neighborhood pool this summer. Go to the grocery store without a mask, go to a restaurant, a water park. All those little things that we’re going to be able to do are so exciting. There’s a lot I’m looking forward to."