Strangers linked for life after bone marrow transplant

Mailyna Mayate and Kristine Sydney will forever be a part of each other. But the two were strangers until recently.

Mailyna says, “I'm so happy to meet her and celebrate that she could come out here.'

Mailyna, who is now 12, was born with a rare blood disorder, Beta Thalassemia that affected her red blood cells. Every three weeks, the California eighth-grader needed a blood transfusion.

She says, “I had to always stay in one place. And I couldn't go anywhere and I was always isolated.'

Mailyna’s mother pushed for her to be placed on a bone marrow transplant waiting list. But they were unable to find a suitable match for her for a year and a half.  Then, 3,000 miles away in Rhode Island, Kristine Sydney decided to register for the Be the Match registry, as a donor through the Asian American Donor Program.

Sydney says, “It didn't hurt at all. It hurts less than falling on the ice when you learning to skate for the first time.'

Mailyna underwent her bone marrow transplant a year ago. Today, doctors say she’s doing fine. She’s been playing soccer and learning Tahitian dance. And, at long last, she got to meet the woman who made her new life possible.

Sydney, her donor, says, “The joy of seeing her. My body can't even contain it. I'm trembling, not because I'm nervous, but I'm so very, very happy.'

Doctors say “it’s crucial for people, particularly those of different races and ethnicities, to register for the National Marrow Donor Registry. That would make it so much easier for people like Mailyna to find their perfect match.”

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