Among the crowd of thousands who watched the US Women’s National Soccer Team defeat South Africa, 3-0, at Levi Stadium on May 12 were two genetic twins who were about to meet for the first time.
Gracie, the recipient of a bone marrow transplant two years ago, was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Syndrome - a rare and potentially fatal blood disorder - at just 10-years-old. She would have to stop playing soccer, her favorite sport, and leave school while being treated. But despite the efforts to fight the disease, doctors determined that a bone marrow transplant would be her only cure. She needed to find a match.
Binh Dao registered to be a bone marrow donor with DKMS at a drive on his college campus at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota. It didn’t take long for Binh to step up to save a life. A year after signing up, he was called and notified that he was a match for Gracie. Binh followed the process and Gracie received her transplant.
Two years later, Gracie and Binh would have the chance to meet in front of thousands of fans cheering them on. On the field, prior to the game, Gracie was surprised to meet her favorite soccer stars and the man who gave her a second chance at life, Binh.
Binh and Gracie beat the odds to win this game. Less than 1 percent of registered donors are called as a match. And it’s even more difficult for people of Asian descent - both Gracie and Binh have Vietnamese heritage - as they are only 4 percent of the registry.