Donating blood, platelets, and bone marrow is truly giving someone the gift of life.
One lucky recipient of this gift of life is Skye Savren-McCormick of Aventura, California. Skye was just a year old when she was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Her parents were devastated to learn that their daughter would need a bone marrow transplant in order to survive.
Months earlier, across the country in Alabama, Auburn University student Hayden Hatfield Ryals was walking to class one day when she saw a sign for an organization called “Be the Match.” Hayden had previously donated blood and platelets, so right then and there, she decided to donate some bone marrow, too.
At the time, she had no idea that this simple act of kindness would save the life of a child who had not even been born yet.
“Almost a year to the day after I registered, I got a call saying I was a match to a 1-year-old baby girl with leukemia and [was] asked if I wanted to move forward with the process,” Hayden said. “I was in awe and instantly, I knew this was my purpose and was ready to get the ball rolling to help this angel.”
Skye received two separate transfusions of Hayden’s life-saving bone marrow. Now, at age three, the toddler is finally in remission — and on the road to recovery. “Be the Match” has an anonymity policy for the first year after donation, but after the year was up Hayden began communicating with Skye’s parents, Todd and Talia Savren-McCormick.
Talia and Todd are certain that without Hayden’s donation, their daughter would not be alive today. “She was that sick,” Talia said.
The two families began exchanging texts and Facebook messages, and Hayden event sent Skye a birthday gift when she turned three! Inside the card, Hayden had included a very special invitation for the delighted child: an invitation for Skye to serve as flower girl at Hayden’s upcoming wedding!
After getting cleared by her doctors to fly from California to Alabama, the Savren-McCormicks arrived just two short days before Hayden’s big day. The bride-to-be says as soon as she set eyes on Skye, she was overcome with emotion.
“I walked up and I just dropped to my knees and all I could do was smile,” Hayden said tearfully. That night, at the rehearsal dinner, the Savren-McCormicks surprised Hayden with a beautiful keepsake locket that she will cherish forever. Inside the locket was a photograph of the little girl whose life Hayden had saved with her selfless and precious gift, along with an inscription that reads:
“This heart beats with yours.”
On Hayden’s wedding day, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as little Skye walked the aisle as flower girl. She took her role very seriously, and look at how beautiful she is!
The families now consider themselves bonded for life, and Talia says Skye just adores the woman who saved her life.
“I always tell people they’re smitten for one another,” Talia said. “Skye calls her ‘Hay Hay.’
Hayden and the Savren-McCormick clan have already made plans to stay in touch. “They are going to be part of our lives forever,” Talia said. “She saved our daughter’s life.”
This is yet another example of the goodness that can come from a split-second decision like the one Hayden made. We could all do well to remember that when we give selflessly of body and mind, you just never know whose life might be improved — or even saved.
Watch the video below for more of Skye and Hayden, and share this beautiful message of love, kindness, and humanity!