Jake meets his angel

December 22

She’s an angel. She saved my son’s life.

Like most teenagers, Jake Amato hangs out with his friends. He plays basketball in the driveway. He shares holidays with his family. These seem like typical teen moments, but for Jake, they mean so much more— because for much of his childhood, Jake was too sick to leave his bed. He’s alive and healthy today, thanks to a young woman who lives halfway around the world.

Diagnosed with leukemia at age four, Jake endured four years of chemotherapy to achieve his first remission. When the cancer returned in 2009, Jake’s parents, Ken and Debbie, got more devastating news.

“The doctor told us that Jake needed a bone marrow transplant,” Debbie explained. “Our oldest son was not a match, so the transplant would have to come from an unrelated donor.”

And so, the search for Jake’s lifesaver began.

Several months later, a young woman from Germany named Carrie Ann got a call that she was a match for a patient. “I was told my bone marrow was going across the Atlantic and that the recipient might be a child,” she said.

That was all Carrie Ann needed to hear.

In 2010, Jake received Carrie Ann’s bone marrow in a transplant that helped him beat leukemia. “I’m not sick anymore,” said Jake. “I feel normal because I don’t have to stay inside, I’m into sports again and can hang out with my friends.”

Two years later, Jake’s parents contacted Carrie Ann and a meeting was arranged. When she arrived in America, 824 days after Jake’s transplant, Carrie Ann was welcomed at the airport with hugs, tears and cheers.

"She’s an angel,” said Ken. “She saved my son’s life. There’s nothing else that needs to be said, she saved my son’s life.”

For Carrie Ann, the experience was powerful. “You’re doing such a simple thing and having such a big result— the biggest result you can have,” she said. “There was a time he could not walk or even move, and now I see him outside playing basketball. I would donate again and again.”

When you give to DKMS, 100% of your contribution helps us add more potential lifesavers like Carrie Ann to the registry. That means more chances for patients with blood cancers to become survivors like Jake.

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