NFT Bone Marrow Transplant Patient Finds a Friend Through Unlikely Connection

May 13, 2009

NFT patient, Melissa Delgado, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2003. For six years, she has been unsuccessful in finding a bone marrow donor match. While there is a national shortage of organ and tissue donors, the need for bone marrow donors of Hispanic descent is particularly crucial. The success rate for bone marrow transplants greatly increases when tissue is matched between members of the same ethnic background.Sunday, May 17 at 7 p.m., a fundraiser, including a cocktail-style dinner, dancing and a raffle, will be held in honor of Melissa at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, NY. The entire evening has been planned in Melissa’s honor by someone who was a complete stranger just a couple months ago.***

When Maria DeFrancesco volunteered to help at a healthcare convention, she had no idea her efforts would save lives.On the final day of the convention, a bone marrow drive was held. Maria, 32, recalls thinking, “No big deal. I’ll add my name to the bone marrow registry,” but she gave it very little thought after that. Three weeks later, she received a call telling her she was a preliminary match for a 14-year-old boy who suffered from acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Further testing proved she was a perfect match, and in February her bone marrow was harvested to save the life of this young boy.Because of her newfound connection with bone marrow transplants, Maria wanted to do even more to help. She began researching local organizations and found the National Foundation for Transplants. After contacting NFT, Maria learned about Melissa Delgado. The two women met and quickly became friends.“After talking to Melissa, it was easy to see she is such a strong girl who is determined to get through anything. I want to help her by spreading awareness and shedding light on bone marrow donation,” explains Maria.A bone marrow transplant costs approximately $675,000, and that is only the beginning. Even with health insurance, Melissa is facing significant expenses related to her transplant. Searching for donors also is an expensive process.The Icla da Silva Foundation will host a bone marrow drive during the fundraiser so guests will have the opportunity to register as bone marrow donors at no cost. A representative from The Bone Marrow Foundation also will be present to answer any questions about marrow donation.Local businesses participating in the fundraiser include Del Frisco’s Steakhouse, Frankies 457 Spuntino, Jalopy Music Theater and Oggi Hair Salon.Visit Melissa Delgado’s Web page on the NFT Web site to learn more about her fight against leukemia.