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A Rutgers student, 24-year-old Stephanie Cisne, recently had the chance to meet the bone marrow donor who saved her life.

At 18-years-old, while attending Penn State University, Stephanie started fainting for no reason. Doctors initially told her she was just malnourished, but after the fainting episodes continued, Stephanie had bloodwork done and got sent to a cancer specialist.

On March 10, 2014, Stephanie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia and immediately hospitalized. Upon learning that she would need a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible, Stephanie and her family began working with the Icla da Silva Foundation to host drives for the Be The Match Registry. Fortunately, a matching donor was quickly identified and Stephanie had her transplant that August. But her battle wasn’t over. Stephanie suffered serious infections and septic shock. Her leg was on the verge of amputation and she had a life-threatening liver disease, followed by kidney failure. She went into a coma and doctors debated whether or not she would wake up. They gave her 72 hours to live.

Stephanie is a survivor and recently celebrated her five-year transplant anniversary.

For anyone considering joining the Be The Match registry, Stephanie says that “small actions can have big results. That small gesture of swabbing your cheek to see if you are a match for someone will literally change your life. When you go through the donation, when you utilize the power you have to save a life, you gain a connection with a complete stranger. You made a difference in someone else’s life. You touched an entire family. You gave the gift of life to a long list of friends and relatives that you never knew existed.”

Thanks to her donor, 31-year-old Crystal Dozier of Arizona, Stephanie is now back in school at Rutgers University.

The National Marrow Donor Program operates Be The Match, the largest and most diverse bone marrow registry in the world. Every 3 minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer and for patients with diseases like leukemia- and other blood disorders, a cure exists through a blood stem cell transplant. Joining the registry is simple and done by filling out a questionnaire and swabbing your cheek. 1 in 435 registry members go on to donate and if you’re called to be a donor, Be The Match covers all expenses. To join, go to join.bethematch.org/SaveVidas.

Check out Joel and Maryann’s interview with Mauricio Murillo, Recruitment Operations Manager for The Icla da Silva Foundation…

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