Jasmina Anema – the spunky 6-year-old New York City girl who captured Rihanna’s heart – received a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant Thursday, less than five months after finding out she had a rare and deadly form of leukemia.
“It’s done!” Jasmina’s mother, Thea Anema, tearfully exclaimed moments after the transplant – a transfusion of healthy stem cells into her tiny body – at New York City’s Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center.
With Jasmina still sleeping, Thea told PEOPLE from her hospital room, “I’m overwhelmed with so many emotions right now! For months, I’ve been so scared and anxious and full of uncertainty. And now it’s finally happened. It’s an overwhelming relief. I am incredibly grateful to the donor who gave Jasmina a second chance at life.”
Rihanna, who rallied thousands of people to register as potential donors in February on PEOPLE.com, says she is thrilled and touched that Jasmina finally found a match. “I love this little girl and I am so happy that Jasmina received her transplant today. Miracles do happen. I hope more people sign up as bone marrow donors with DKMS so we can save more lives like hers. Jasmina remains in my prayers for a fast recovery,” Rihanna told PEOPLE exclusively after hearing the transplant news Thursday night.
On April 2, Rihanna flew to New York City just to visit Jasmina at NYU Medical Center, where she was being treated. Other celebs including Kelly Rowland, The Naked Brothers and Nat and Alex Wolff have also visited Jasmina. NBA stars Chris Wilcox and Paul Pierce have also made public appeals for bone marrow donors to help her – and others like her.
Against All Odds
“This child has overcome so many hurdles from the start,” says Katharina Harf, executive vice president of DKMS Americas, the bone marrow donor registry that helped Jasmina find a match. “The fact that she even got a transplant is a miracle, because all the odds were against her. She seemed like a hopeless case when she was first diagnosed because she had an aggressive form of leukemia, no potential donors and is African American – which makes it even harder to find a match.”
And although she may not know it, Jasmina is already saving other people’s lives because of the publicity surrounding her need for a donor and bone marrow drives that were held for her. “Four potential matches have already been found for other patients,” says Harf.
A Tough Road
In May, Jasmina found out that she had two close matches. “Out of those two potential matches, one came through and donated the cells she needed,” says Harf. Jasmina and her mom will find out the identity of the donor in one to two years.
But doctors had to postpone the transplant twice because Jasmina came down with shingles, which left her with painful blisters all over her face and body. “After all these rounds of chemo that she had and the struggle to get her into remission for the transplant, they had to delay it,” says Harf. “But finally they determined that she was strong enough to have the transplant today.”
To make sure her body had gotten rid of all the cancer cells, Jasmina underwent 10 days of chemo and radiation before the transplant. “We have to wait and see if her body accepts the donor cells, but she is getting a second chance at life, all because of the kindness of a stranger she’s never met.”
A Happy-Go-Lucky Attitude
Throughout her ordeal, Jasmina has been optimistic that she would beat the deadly cancer that took over her body. “Her spirits have been great all along,” Thea said. “Yesterday I told her, Tomorrow is the big day.’ To her it means that she is closer to the time that she can go home. She is very excited about that.”
Jasmina will remain at Sloane-Kettering for the next month. If the transplant looks like a success, Jasmina will be able to go home after 30 days, where she will stay in isolation for six months. “That means no school, no playground and very few visitors,” says Thea. “But I cant wait to have her back at home.”
Says Harf: “Today is a day to celebrate. It’s almost like a new birthday. People who have received transplants often celebrate the transfer day because it gave them a second chance at life. If you want to be someone else’s miracle, please sign up as a bone marrow donor.”
For more information, on how to become a donor, please visit www.OneForJasmina.com or DKMSAmericas.org. If you want to sign up as a bone marrow donor with DKMS, go here.
from Huffington Post
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