Thursday, June 9, 2016
"A Heroes Meeting..."
Rowan and I had the opportunity to tour the GenCure Facility and South Texas Blood and Tissue Center in San Antonio recently. Some of GenCure's Programs include Be The Match, Texas Cord Blood Bank, and Donate Life Texas. They showed Rowan how blood and stem cells are collected, scanned, cleaned, separated, stored, and shipped. He got to watch a robotic arm capping hundreds of tubes of blood in a sterile machine. Observed technicians separating blood into packed red cells, plasma, platelets, etc. then labeling and segmenting the bags and tubing. He saw where the cord blood is frozen and saved for later use. The technology being used and research that is being done, was mind blowing!
But above and beyond the technology, machines, and robots...there was something far more important inside those walls. Heroes. Lots and lots of heroes. The people who work there are heroes in our book...making matches and saving lives, every day. We met people who had been donors or received life saving treatments themselves...both heroes, for what they went through and what they gave. But there was one very special interaction that we will never forget, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to have been given to us...
Jon, from GenCure wanted Rowan to be able to see what happens on the donor side of a bone marrow transplant, specially since he is inspiring so many people to register. So, Rowan brought flowers for this special lady, because he heard that he would get to meet her ... she was giving her stem cells, so that someone like Rowan could receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant. She doesn't know who she is donating too, but she selflessly chose to answer the call anyway. Just in case they never get the chance to thank her personally...we wanted to do so ourselves.
She cried within 2 minutes of Rowan coming into the room. And the first words she spoke to him were, "Rowan, I read about you. You inspire me, and I want you to know that if I were your match, I'd give you my cells today too." That of course made both Rowan and I tear up too.
Then they talked...
He looked at the machine that was taking her blood, spinning off the stem cells, and giving her back the rest. He told her how he liked to draw medical inventions, and saved some of his medical supplies so he could try to build new equipment. We all agreed that maybe he would invent something important like this someday.
They held hands...
She reassured Rowan that she was not in pain, and that they were keeping her very comfortable. She asked Rowan what he liked to do, what he was excited about doing after he got his transplant and was better, and they talked about everything he wanted to do on his bucket list some day. They were fast friends, and it was beautiful to witness.
We all hugged...and promised to keep in touch through Rowan's transplant journey too.
After a while, they both agreed that anyone who knew what the transplant recipient has to go through on a daily basis because of their illness, sometimes for many years in a row, would definitely realize that being a donor is the better end of the deal, and that their part is no where near what the sick child has endured. As Rowan said, "Yeah, it's almost nothing to them, but it's everything to us. I wish everyone would sign up to do it. I would if I could."
We were just so blessed to meet you Yvette. May God bless you for what you are doing, and may it be a lifesaving, successful, transplant for the recipient. We wish you the best as you return to your "normal" life, but hope that you never forget that you are nothing short of an angel for giving this gift of life!
Thank you to Jon, Angel, GenCure, Wells Fargo, South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, and all of your employees...for the tour, the hospitality, the insight, the goodie bag, the CEREAL you collected on Rowan's behalf for the Food Bank. We cannot thank you enough!