This would have been a milestone year for Alana – 19 years of age. Since God works in mysterious ways, this one milestone was not to be. Yet, in the past 16 years, many other miraculous milestones have been attained. Since 1997, nearly 100 individuals made marrow or stem cell donations to give another a second chance at life. The 30,000 plus who responded to Alana’s plea for help are making a difference.
On October 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, a bone marrow donor from Hawaii, Dana Lau, met for the first time the recipient of her gift of marrow. The donor said she was hoping, she would be Alana’s match but it was not to be. Instead 10 years later, she matched a woman from New Orleans and saved the life of Ann Gregory who was suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It has been 15 years since the founding of the Hawai‘i Cord Blood Registry our first grant recipient. The organization has made it possible for mothers on the day their babies were born to give the gift of life a second time – the Registry has had 134 matched units. The use of cord blood in transplantation was experimental during Alana’s ordeal. Today, cord blood units are being used to cure cancers and are achieving significant milestones. Our commitment to talented researchers is evident by the work being done at Chaminade University. Dr. Joan Kuh continues to look at the histological markers of hepatosteatosis and liver cancer. Learning about the composition of markers will eventually help physicians in their treatment of cancer patients.
This summer, thanks to director John Paul Tai’s vision, a new generation was exposed to the importance of bone marrow donations. In addition to learning about the Hawaii Bone Marrow Registry, 70 children enrolled in the Paliku Academy of Performing Arts’ summer program and performed Lisa Matsumoto’s reimagined “On Dragonfly Wings.” While Alana was not saved and we did not get the outcome we initially hoped for, we can see the miracles that have occurred and know that with the support of individuals like you, many more miracles are possible. While we celebrate the advancements and personal victories made in the last 16 years, we must remind ourselves that cancer is a fight we have not yet won. It continues to afflict our friends, family and loved ones. We ask that you continue to support us in our mission to improve the quality of life for children and to support those individuals and organizations whose work is directed at eliminating the pain and suffering caused by terminal illness.
Adelia and Stephen Dung