A couple of days ago a 15-year dream of mine came true and I want to share the good news with you. I promise you that it has a Magical Hollywood ending.
This story is about a woman named Janet that I have been trying to find for the past 6 years. Six years ago I was an anonymous donor to a wonderful boy named Lucas from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He loves Magic. My donation to him is what inspired me to become a professional Comedy Magician and Mentalist.
On February 24th, 2006 I took part in a bone marrow drive to help save a Latina woman from the Bronx who had Leukemia. The bone marrow drive was sponsored by Jennifer Lopez who felt connected to the woman and was helping her find a match. Even though the odds of me being a match for Janet were greater than one in a million, the second the swab hit my mouth I had a feeling that someday I would get the call to be a bone marrow donor. I was always waiting for the call and purposely never changed my cell phone number so that they could contact me.
In August of 2014, I got that call. I was sitting at my desk at a corporate job that I hated. When the phone rang it was from a number I didn't recognize and I had a feeling that it might be the call.
The person on the other side of the line said, "Hello, is this Andy Peters? Do you know why I am calling you?" I replied back to the person, "Yes, I think so." The person then said to me, "My name is Billy and I am calling from DKMS. You are a potential match to be a bone marrow donor for a 2-year-old boy with Leukemia. Are you interested in being an anonymous donor?" I said, "Yes, I will do whatever I have to do to save the boy." I accepted on the spot.
A couple of days later, after doing some blood tests, I received a call from Billy. He told me that on a scale-out of 10 that I was a "Perfect Match". No one had ever called me perfect in my entire life and it felt really good. Billy also said that out of all of the people in the entire world I was the only possible match for the boy. I could only imagine how good the boy’s parents felt at this time.
On November 4th, 2014, after the boy had finished going through chemotherapy, I did my donation. I will never forget that day. It was also the same day I decided to become a professional Magician. At the donation I got to meet Billy (we are now friends) from DKMS. He told me two things. First, he asked me, “Would you like to know where the boy is from?” I said “Yes” Then Billy said, “Take a guess,” I said, “it has to be somewhere in Europe because that is where my family background is from. Maybe, Germany, Scotland, or Italy.” Then he said, “Not even close. The boy is from Brazil!” I was absolutely shocked.
Billy also said that even though I signed up to be an anonymous donor, the boy’s family and I both expressed interest in contacting each other down the road.
My friend CJ and I then made a video together to give to the boy one day. In the video, I said, “My name is Andy Peters. Today with my Magical stem cells, I am going to save your life. I love you” I had never told anyone I had never met that I love them. Have you?
When the donation was all over the nurse said to me, “I have been doing this for almost 25 years and I have never seen a donation go as well as yours. The boy’s chances of survival look really good.” I was happy to hear that.
Shortly before Christmas in 2015, I received a handwritten letter that was from Brazil. I immediately thought that it might be a letter from the boy’s family. It was from the boy’s mother and she said that they were very grateful for my donation. She said that her son’s name is Lucas and that he is the first grandchild born of a huge family in Sao Paulo. She said that not only did my donation save her son’s life, but it saved their whole family. I was very happy to read these words and I cried.
Around 6 months later we reached the 18-month mark from my donation and DKMS contacted me and said that they had some good news. The boy’s family would like to contact me directly. We both signed some paperwork and around 24 hours later I received an email from the boy's mother, Vanessa, with a picture of her son Lucas. I then sent a picture back to them of me in my Magic outfit. She printed out the photo and gave it to Lucas. Vanessa said that he was so happy to know that the man who saved him was a Magician. Lucas’ mother said that Lucas took that photo with him wherever he went and showed it to all of his friends and anyone he saw, like the people at the grocery store and people walking down the street. (This is the same photo that you can see above)
You might be asking yourself, ‘Who was Janet?” She was the woman from the Bronx who had Leukemia. She inspired me to be on the bone marrow registry close to 15 years ago. If it was not for her and Jennifer Lopez, I never would have been able to save Lucas and become a Professional Magician. I originally signed up to save Janet, but I ended up saving someone else.
I did not know Janet’s name, but I wanted to thank her. It was nearly impossible to find out who she was. I tried every resource I could think of: newspapers, TV, DKMS, and the church that I signed up at. A couple of days ago, by a freak accident from a conversation with another Magician, I came across a really good lead. With the help from a close friend, I was able to figure out Janet’s name and who she was.
Because Janet is from Latin decent it was very hard for her to find a bone marrow match. When Janet needed a bone marrow donation, there was no one who was a match for her. She then worked with her family and people in her community to sign up as many people as possible. Jennifer Lopez heard about Janet’s story and began helping her find a match. They even started a hashtag for her #savejanet that was trending on twitter.
All of these years I thought that Janet had passed away. I thought that I would have to reach out to her family to thank them. Because her diagnosis was so rare, I thought that she had passed away. Well, you are never going to believe this. Janet is alive!! Somebody saved her too!!
I recently reached out to Janet and thanked her. I hope to hear back from her, but I really only wanted to share the good news with her. I told her about Lucas and his family and how big of an impact she and Jennifer Lopez had on our lives. I asked Janet three things 1) would you be interested in sharing our combined story to help people sign up for the Bone Marrow registry? 2) were there any other people that you know about that were saved from your bone marrow registration drives? 3) Did you find a match?
When Janet had those bone marrow drives in 2006, it started a domino effect that continues to unfold. I hope to hear back from Janet and inspire other people to get on the bone marrow registry because cancer sucks.
Never give up hope on achieving your dreams, everyone. For years people had been telling me that it wasn’t worth it and that I should stop trying to find Janet. I know that it was by accident that I eventually found Janet, but I can only think that there was a reason that I found her now during these hard times of the coronavirus when it is important to help a stranger in need.
Lucas and I started a one of a kind Magic show called, “The Perfect Match”.
Request a packet be sent to your home by clicking the link above and you too could join the registry and be a potential life saver.