These honorees will be recognized at our Lone Star Circle of Life event in The Colony. The event will be held Friday, October 6 at 3 p.m. at Lava Cantina, 5805 Grandscape Blvd., The Colony, TX 75056.
"I joined the registry over 20 years ago, when I was working at Frito-Lay in Plano, TX. I felt honored to be called and I hoped I would be a match. I was told I was not quite a match but they wanted me to go ahead with the donation.
The donation process was painless and everyone was very nice at Carter BloodCare in Fort Worth. The hardest part was staying still for 5 hours and no bathroom break! I cried when I learned my recipient had died just a couple months before I was able to meet him. I am still sad I was never able to meet any family or hear his story.
I am 53 years old with a daughter that is almost 24, son that is 21 and wonderful husband. I work part-time in marketing."
"When Mia was eight weeks old, we took her into the ER because she had a high fever. After numerous tests she was finally diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis. (HLH) HLH is a rare life-threatening immunodeficiency with a 100% fatally rate if left untreated. 4 days later she began her 8 week chemo regimen which was then followed by a week of intense chemo. At 4 months old she received her life saving stem cell transplant. Mia has gone through so many obstacles and ups and downs in her short life but yet she has touched the lives of so many people. She is a fighter and the true definition of perseverance. She will be 4 years old in November and she is full of life and happiness. She loves to be around people and especially kids. She got a rough start at life but we want to share her story to as many people as we can to help raise awareness for HLH.
"In passing at four days old, Johnston’s family chose to give life to my son, Keegan. The boys were born on the same day, almost exactly six hours apart. At almost the same hour that we were told Keegan would not survive without a heart, the Walkers were being told that Johnston had suffered terminal brain damage from SIDS. In their grief, the Walkers chose life for Keegan We strive to honor Johnston’s memory and gift with every breath and every day we are blessed to have Keegan with us."
"I joined the registry because ever since I was little, I’ve always liked the idea of helping others and what better way than this! When I received the call telling me I was a possible match, I was at work and remember I cried so much for joy. I ran to tell the provider I worked for that I was a possible match. When I received the all to be a donor, I was filled with emotions. I was happy, yet nervous. I thanked God for this."
Dr. Ganesa joined the Be The Match Registry in 1999 at Texas A&M. Throughout the years on the registry, she kept her address current and recommitted whenever asked by Be The Match. Seventeen years after joining the registry, she received the call saying she was a match for a child with leukemia. Dr. Ganesa gave this child a second chance this past year by donating marrow.
Dr, Ganesa says, "I am a medical oncologist at The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Fort Worth and treat patients with cancers. My job is to help patients fight for their lives. However, donating my bone marrow was the most personal and direct way to make a difference for someone fighting for their life and I am truly grateful for the privilege."
Thank you, Dr. Ganesa, for your wonderful gift.
"I joined the registry a few years ago after participating in a blood drive at church. My experience with Be the Match has been was positive, fulfilling and rewarding.
Beginning from my initial phone screen and questionnaire the nurses and coordinators were very attentive and kind. Things were explained to me comprehensively and with care. I felt I was given all the necessary information to help me with my decision to donate. I also want to thank Jamie Herrin who assisted me with scheduling the surgery; it was quite a busy time for me. Jamie was patient, understanding and worked with my schedule.
It was important to participate in giving this gift. It was a way for me to positively impact someone's life and family. While it was a challenging time for me personally, I still wanted to make the decision to donate, and to show my children that even when things are not as we would have it; we can still make decisions that can benefit others and not just look to only benefit ourselves.
The act of my donation was to "Be a Match" to someone I could help and to set an example to my children on how to serve and think about others. I’m so grateful I was able to participate in the program and I am very excited and proud to have done so."
"I was a couple of months short of my 65th birthday when I went to the hospital with a pain in my back which turned out to be kidney stones caused by Acute Leukemia. I had six months of chemotherapy to put the leukemia in remission but I needed a STEM cell transplant.
Fortunately for me, my 60 yea- old younger sister was a match. Remarkably she had been cured of Hepatitis C just six months prior to my diagnosis. I walked the ‘Light The Night’ fund raiser the evening before I went into the hospital for the transplant. My sister flew in from Nashville and donated her stem cells. I had my new birthday transplant on November 10th 2015. Was in the hospital the minimum 21 days and released. I was fortunate in that I didn't have any GVHD or infections.
Once I got my strength back, I contacted Be The Match about being a volunteer, met Cliff Ackerman, and started volunteering. Cliff is a great guy to work with and I have volunteered at a number of his events. As all transplant survivors will tell you, we feel extremely fortunate to have benefited from the decades of research that started when I was a child in the 1950s, and are alive today to spread the word about the amazing success of STEM cell and bone marrow transplantation. It saves lives.
"I signed up for the registry in 2012 as a high school senior and matched with a patient a year later. I was asked to donate for this patient in 2015. He made an amazing recovery after receiving the donation – I saved his life! I have also organized and volunteered for several Be The Match events."
"Walking through the campus of UT Arlington a few years ago, I saw the booth for Be The Match and since I already donated blood regularly, I decided to go ahead and submit a sample. I never expected to get called as I know that chances are fairly low. I received the initial text message that I was a potential match for a young girl the day I got back from my honeymoon and I was surprised but mostly excited. As I got information about the odds of being chosen even from the smaller pool, I didn't think I would actually be the best match. After all of the testing and being declared the best match for the recipient, I knew there was no way that I couldn't donate."
Jay Jakkal is being honored for his marrow donation to a young lady with leukemia. Jay said about his donation, "I joined because it was by almighty God’s grace. I was at an event for my kids and just wanted to be a blessing that God wants us to be. It is the least I could do for people suffering from cancer and need help. I wish I could meet or know about the girl on how she is doing.
I want to say "Thank You" Jamie and Be The Match organization for being such a tremendous blessing in making this happen. God Bless you.
"In August, I was able to be a donor for a patient after being a Bone Marrow Transplant nurse for five years and volunteering for Be The Match for three years.
Now, as a Nurse Practitioner taking care of Bone Marrow Transplant patients, I finally was able to truly give more of myself to a special person in need! I feel so blessed and honored to have spent so many years with recipients and now to be a donor! It has truly been an amazing experience."
Michele Robinson is being honored as an organ donor. She donated a kidney to her momma, Rose Mary Hatfield, on April 11, 2007. Her gift gave her and her brother almost ten more years with their momma.
Michele and her husband John have always been active in their local 4-H. Their daughter McKalah was a proud third generation 4-Her and her favorite projects were her livestock projects, specifically heifers, steers, and pigs. Although McKalah graduated over four years ago, you can still find Michele and John in the barns, always willing to help other kids and families out with their livestock projects.
It hasn’t quite been three months since Andre Tucker received a kidney transplant, and yet he’s already been to visit patients at the center where he underwent dialysis for nearly five years. His message to these dialysis patients? Stay positive and keep fighting. "It can get really discouraging sometimes," Andre says of being a dialysis patient. "Some of these patients wait five, 10 or 15 years for a kidney transplant, and I want them to know it’s possible, and it can happen." It finally happened for Andre in July of 2017.
Andre is a corporate trainer, husband, father of two and a lifelong athlete — primarily a basketball player. During his illness, he switched to lower-impact sports like golf and softball. Andre is looking forward to playing basketball again soon, and taking his family on a vacation — something they couldn’t do while he was receiving dialysis.
Ariel Tinajero joined the Be The Match Registry when he was at Northlake College where he is pursuing a degree in psychology. Now 22 years-old, he just donated peripheral blood stem cells several months ago.
When asked him why he joined, he said, "Because Cliff asked him if he wanted to save a life?"
"Victoria was only 15 when she passed. Her parents made the decision to donate her organs. Because of this generous gift in their darkest moment, I am alive today to help change lives. From what her parents have told me, Victoria had the kindest heart, joy of life and was a very generous person. I feel that she needs to be honored for the sweet girl that she was."
Kent Canada is being honored because of his stem cell donation for a patient with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. He registered with the Be The Match Registry twenty years ago and received the call to be a donor in 2015.
"It went from the best family vacation to the worst family vacation in a light-switch of a moment," said Tara Storch. The Storches were on Spring Break in Colorado in March 2015, when their oldest daughter, 13-year-old Taylor, died in an accident on the slopes. Because Taylor's parents, Tara and Todd, decided to donate their daughter's organs, Taylor gave the gift of life to five other people. Taylor donated her heart, pancreas, liver, both kidneys and corneas.
"We had never thought about organ donation before Taylor's death," Storch said. "But when we learned that was an option, my husband and I knew immediately that Taylor would have chosen to donate."
Though her life was tragically cut short, Taylor is still impacting families today through a foundation her parents started in her honor: Taylor's Gift. The foundation's purpose is two-fold: to share the importance of organ donation and to help organ donor families during their time of need.
"We really started this with the intent of increasing organ donation registrations. That's the engine of the foundation," Storch said. "But our giveback is our Legacy Gift program." The Legacy Gift program provides financial assistance to donor families who may be struggling to pay bills or cover funeral expenses after the loss of a loved one. The program, which is funded through philanthropic donations, has helped nearly 200 families since 2015.
"As a grieving parent, you start looking for purpose," Storch said. "Organ donation was the good that came from our tragedy."