Woman's sister ends up being perfect match for stem cell transplant

ABC11 Together highlights the strength of the human spirit, good deeds, community needs, and how our viewers can help.

Amber Rupinta Image
Friday, March 15, 2019
Woman's sister ends up being perfect match for stem sell transplant
EMBED <>More Videos

Woman's sister ends up being perfect match for stem sell transplant

ABC11 Together's Match Madness drive is continuing through the month of March.

The Match Madness drive is a partnership with Be The Match, whose mission is to provide hope for a cure by connecting patients with life-saving marrow donors. The drive kicked off on March 6 and everyone is encouraged to join the registry.

For the Reese sisters, they were a perfect match--which is rare. Less than 30 percent of patients in need of a transplant will have a family member who matches. Usually, patients rely on the registry to find a possible match.

"I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia," explained Erika Reese. "This was after I woke up in the hospital essentially not knowing what was happening but knowing I could barely open my eyes or move my body. After a bone marrow biopsy later that year they added the diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome and essentially told me that the only treatment for my disorders was a stem cell transplant. So, my sister, she had been on the bone marrow registry before we found out this was happening to me."

Reese's sister, Bianka, was a match and wants everyone to know that the process of donating was not painful or complicated in her case.

"I had to do a physical which was a simple doctor's physical that everybody does every year," Bianka Reese said. "And then, I had to do hormone injections for about a week before the procedure to get more of my stem cells to be ready to be extracted. The day of the transplant, I laid in the bed for four hours and it was like giving blood essentially."

The sisters now pay it forward, encouraging anyone who can to register to do so and potentially save a life.

For more information on who can donate, you can click here.