HOUSTON - Here's a positive update for a family we introduced our viewers to last year, after their little girl got her Christmas miracle of a bone marrow transplant. Now, she and her family get to meet the woman who saved her life!
In fact, three-year-old Alesha Kajani gets a second chance at life. She was suffering from the rare condition of bone marrow failure and also has a rare blood type.
Alesha’s Indian-Pakistani background made it challenging to find a donor. Her family is beyond thrilled and relieved they found the perfect match, which happened to be 1 in 19 million from the donor registry.
"None of the family members could be her match, so this was a miracle, something super incredible that this happened and she said yes to donate. Her life basically belongs to her donor, because without her, we would not have had her," states her thankful mother, Mehreen Rupani.
"There was no question in my mind. It was going to happen, however and whenever it needed to. I was blessed to be chosen," smiles Alesha’s donor, Salima.
Alesha's family couldn't wait to meet Salima. Because of the pandemic, they had to do it virtually, but it was still incredibly meaningful for them all.
"It was just pure emotions. To know and see someone that gave the gift of life to your only child was just overwhelming. And I'm so glad that she decided to be with us, she decided to not remain anonymous, because I really wanted to see who she is, who is our angel," says Mehreen.
"It's funny how complete strangers can literally become family! I'm excited to have Alesha call me ‘Auntie’ and I have a sister and a mother, so your family just exponentially grows and there's just so much love. Since we've talked on the phone, we've texted off and on, I check on her, I check on Alesha, I got a Christmas present from them the other day. So it's amazing to be part of this little girl's life," says Salima.
"It's an incredible feeling. It's something that you can't describe in words. It's like you've gained a part of your family. She's everything to us, words can't describe how perfect it is," says Mehreen.
Salima joined the bone marrow donor registry almost three years before she got the call that she matched Alesha. She’s still in awe that she was the 1 in 19 million!
"I didn't realize the numbers were that high, and again I'm humbled and honored to be part of this family," states Salima.
It has been a year of recovery for Alesha.
"She's doing super good. She's running around like she does. She is getting her g-tube feeding as we're talking, she has come a long way! This is the only Christmas after her birth that we have spent at home, and we are very happy and thankful to the Lord that we have our donor and have that chance. She is doing great," says her mom.
They are working hard with Alesha, to help her catch up on milestones. Salima's bone marrow donation breathed life back into this entire family.
Many minorities are under-represented on the bone marrow registry, making it more difficult for children like Alesha to find a matching donor. DKMS still urges anyone of South Asian descent to please step up and register. Registering online is easy, secure, and only takes five minutes. The chances to be called as a donor are rare - 1 in 430. If called, you are likely the patient's best match. Your decision can give hope and a second chance at life. After registering, you swab your cheeks and send the kit back to DKMS. It is all free of charge.
You can sign up on the bone marrow registry to help another family, by going to: https://www.dkms.org/en/register