When Sarah Aiken was preparing for her wedding, there was one guest that she had at the top of her list: Kinley Strohl. In 2011, Sarah donated bone marrow to Kinley, who was six at the time and fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
“It was like we all have been best friends for years!” Sarah said. “We cried and hugged and had the best weekend! She got to hang out with my bridesmaids and I as we got ready for my big day. She helped me put on my wedding shoes and fixed my dress before my first look with my future husband. It was so special to have her and her family by my side on that special day.”
In the 7 years since the two connected for the first time, they were only in contact via Facebook, Instagram, and email. The wedding weekend was the first time that they were finally able to embrace.
NBC News | Bride and wedding guest meet for first time after a life-saving gift
Nurse Sarah Russell donated bone marrow eight years ago via a registry, DKMS, to a little girl who was losing her fight with leukemia -- saving her life. Now fourteen and cancer free, that young girl attended Sarah’s wedding, and presented her with a special gift.
“One of the most memorable moments from that weekend was when her older brother pulled me aside and we both just broke down in tears as he thanked me over and over again for saving his sister' life. I had no words and simply told him, I will always be there for him and his family with whatever they needed!
Sarah and Kinley recently shared their story with the New York Times. Read the full story here.
Photos courtesy of Photography by Brea
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Heston was diagnosed in January 2016 with Schwachman-Diamond Syndrome, a disease that can lead to leukemia and bone marrow failure. The need for a bone marrow transplant for Heston is becoming more urgent, and there are no current matches for him. While his condition is getting more serious, his outlook and strength are very strong.
In July 2018, Marley was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia and doctors say his best chance of survival is to have a bone marrow transplant. A search of the registry has returned no matches for Marley. Now, his family is campaigning to find #MarrowforMarley in the hope of finding him a matching blood stem cell donor.
This is the donation method used in 75% of cases. Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that collects blood stem cells via the bloodstream. These same blood-forming cells found in bone marrow are also found in the circulating (peripheral) blood. It takes about 4-8 hours on 1-2 consecutive days.
This is the donation method used in about 25% of cases, generally when the patient is a child. It is a 1-2 hour surgical procedure performed under anesthesia, so no pain is experienced during the donation. Marrow cells are collected from the back of your pelvic bone using a syringe.
DKMS is the world’s largest bone marrow donor center with more than 9 million registered donors, more than 80,000 of whom have helped save lives by donating marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. Within the U.S., DKMS has registered more than 1 million donors and facilitated over 3,900 donations.