Cheektowaga, NY - You could see the anticipation on AnnaLynn Surace's face as she watched the security gate at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. She was waiting for a woman who helped save her life.
At age 22, AnnaLynn was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. When she relapsed, doctors told her a type of bone marrow transplant was her best hope of surviving. She needed a match. Family tried, but could not help. So, she had to wait for a match to be found through the national registry.
At the same time in Georgia, Jesse Selvidge was working at a bookstore when she saw an ad on the Red Cross website and decided to join the registry. All she had to do was complete a kit sent in the mail that included a swab from inside her mouth. It was more than two years later, when she received an email that she was a match. After getting more information, she decided to go through with it. The process included several tests and two shots a day for five days to boost her bone marrow production. She says her part of the transplant was a lot like giving blood, but she had to keep her arm extended for four hours. There were times when she was uncomfortable, but she says she would do it again.
AnnaLynn is grateful for Jesse's selfless choice. It saved her life, and she waited almost three years to say thank you in person. Jesse also wanted to see for herself how the transplant had worked. 2 On Your Side was there for that joyful moment.
This story could have had a very different outcome if AnnaLynn was a different race. There is a need for more racial diversity on the Bone Marrow Registry, especially African Americans, American Indians, Asians and Hispanics. More information on how to Be the Match is available online.