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Army veteran’s bone marrow donation saves four-year-old with leukemia


Danielle Barker, Militarykind
Published 9:26 a.m. ET July 6, 2018 | Updated 10:22 a.m. ET May 16, 2019CLOSE
He knew if he ever got the call to save someone’s life, it was meant to be.
Militarykind, USA TODAYLaureano did a tour in Iraq between 2009 and 2010.(Photo: Courtesy Mike Laureano)Army veteran Mike Laureano didn’t stop saving lives when he got out of the Delaware National Guard. Thanks to a decision to sign up for Be The Match, he’s the reason a seven-year-old in Utah is here today.The twenty-nine-year-old recalls, “I was going to class, and there was a table set up for Be The Match. I walked by, and they said, ‘Hey come over here,’ so I walked over. They were looking for donors. I knew nothing about the organization prior.’”After a quick cheek swab, Laureano continued on to his class at Wilmington University.“The expectation was one out of every four hundred individuals is actually a match. In my mind, I pretty much just thought that if I did happen to match somebody, it was meant to be.”Sure enough, in 2015, he got the call confirming it was meant to be. Laureano was a perfect match for a little girl with leukemia.Laureano’s bone marrow donation saved Adriana Aviles’s life. (Photo: Courtesy Mike Laureano)Adriana Aviles hadn’t been responding to treatment. A bone marrow donation was her only hope.Her mother Jessica remembers being terrified, “It’s just hard because you’re so scared and fearful because it’s your baby.”When the Aviles family got the call, they were overwhelmed with relief and happiness and forever thankful to their hero. Jessica wanted to meet the man who saved her baby’s life.U.S. laws require that donors and recipients have no communication before the transplant day. During the first year after transplant, it’s possible to send cards and letters back and forth, as long as it is kept anonymous. After the first year post-transplant, if both donor and recipient agree, names and contact information can be shared.Laureano said, “I woke up one morning about two years after surgery, I had a Facebook message from Adriana’s mom, ‘You don’t know me but if this is you, I just want to share that this is the little girl you saved two years ago.’ I pushed my wife and said, ‘Look at this!’ I always wanted to meet them.”Laureano got that chance during a cross-country road trip. Watch the video above to see the emotional moment Aviles gets to thank her hero in person.When Adriana Aviles met her hero, she couldn’t let him go. (Photo: Courtesy Haizel Creations)Click here for more information on Be The Match.How about a little more happiness? Join us to get the best of Humankind in your inbox. We always have something good to share.Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2KSVM9K

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