Leukemia Survivor Meets Her Stem Cell Donor At Gift Of Life Marrow Registry Event In Nantucket

Top Quote Computer engineering student donated twice in order to save transplant recipient's life. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) August 02, 2022 - Debra Casper, a 60-year-old survivor of Acute Myeloid Leukemia met the man who saved her life with a blood stem cell transplant, 21-year-old Ian Sheldon. The heartwarming and emotional introduction took place at a private Gift of Life Marrow Registry event in Nantucket, Mass., on July 26, 2022.

    Casper, a real estate paralegal, wife and mother from Whitman, Mass., was thrilled to meet Sheldon, a Computer Engineering major from Coral Gables, Fla. who is attending Florida International University. The two had never met before, as transplants are anonymous for the first year under federal regulations.

    Sheldon, who donated to Casper twice -- first in October 2020 and second in May 2021, joined the registry while on staff at URJ Camp Coleman located in Georgia.

    The two were introduced by Gift of Life Board of Directors member Dr. Steven Colen, who is himself a transplant recipient and leukemia survivor. After sharing Casper’s story with event guests, Dr. Colen invited Sheldon to join them and meet his recipient for the first time. The emotional pair shared a warm hug and were so thrilled to finally meet each other they were at a loss for words.

    “Thank you, thank you, you gave me back my life,” said Casper. “I am healthy now. Not only is the leukemia cured, but I no longer have diabetes or psoriasis.”

    Sheldon was modest about having saved Casper’s life.

    “I feel like I did nothing special, I hope that anyone else would do the same thing,” he said. “Gift of Life made the donation process so easy I would do it again.”

    “It may feel like you didn’t do that much,” said Dr. Colen, “But, Ian, I can promise you, when you look back on this in the future it will be one of the greatest things you have done in your life.”

    The event benefited Gift of Life Marrow Registry, a nonprofit registry for blood stem cell and marrow donors facilitating matches between donors and patients. Stem cell and marrow transplants have the potential to cure leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell, inherited immune disorders, and 70 other life-threatening conditions.

    Gift of Life is currently searching for donors for multiple blood cancer patients. Those wishing to join the registry and learn if they are a lifesaving match for a patient can visit www.giftoflife.org/register.

    “For 30 years Gift of Life has had one mission – to ensure that every patient has a donor available at the time they are needed,” said Gift of Life Founder and CEO, Jay Feinberg, himself a transplant survivor. "Every person fighting to overcome blood cancer deserves a second chance at life. Our donors tell us that saving a cancer patient’s life is one of the most incredible, life-changing experiences possible."

    About Gift of Life Marrow Registry
    Gift of Life Marrow Registry is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. Established in 1991, Gift of Life Marrow Registry is dedicated to saving lives by facilitating blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants for patients battling leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell, inherited immune disorders, and other blood-related diseases. To learn more about Gift of Life Marrow Registry, visit www.giftoflife.org.

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