We filmed with many subjects for Mixed Match over the course of five years. Cutting down almost 200 hours of footage was extremely difficult but these seven patients’ stories were the ones we decided to feature in Mixed Match. From all of us at Mixed Match, we cannot thank them enough for their willingness and courage to open up their lives to us and share their personal stories. Please watch our featured videos on the Mixed Match Project to hear from the other subjects that we filmed with whom also courageously shared their stories.
– Jeff Chiba Stearns, Director
Diagnosed: Acute Myeloid Leukemia
In 2014 Alex was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and urgently needed to find a bone marrow match. He had found five perfect matches in China but every single one backed out and he was left with no bone marrow matches in the international registry. Therefore, he reached out to Athena Asklipiadis and Mixed Marrow for help finding a match. Athena took up Alex’s cause and does all of his social media and has become a close friend to Alex. Alex is one of the most positive patients we have ever met and the possibility of a double cord blood transplant may be his only hope.
Diagnosis: Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
Heritage: Japanese, Caucasian
Krissy is young, vibrant and been searching for 9 years for a marrow match. Because of her efforts and the efforts of her tight-knit family, who formed Team Krissy to help Krissy find a match, thousands of donors have registered at drives held at churches, malls, festivals and college campuses across California. So far, Team Krissy has registered over 6000 donors through online registrations and in-person drives. Originally her doctors gave her a five-year prognosis before her MDS turned into Leukemia but Krissy has already surpassed the odds by almost doubling this period as she enters into her 10th year after first being diagnosed. She attributes this to her positive and healthy lifestyle and active running schedule.
Diagnosed: Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
Heritage: African American, European
Diagnosed in 2009 with MDS, her only hope for a cure is a bone marrow transplant. Her doctors continue to search the Be The Match Registry for a matching donor, but that search has not been easy as Imani is biracial. Imani is a rambunctious teenager who loves soccer and ballet dancing but a match is needed soon or she is in jeopardy at anytime of developing leukemia.
Diagnosis: Aplastic Anemia – Received bone marrow transplant – survivor of 14 years
Heritage: Chinese, Caucasian
Valerie Sun was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia at the age of 11. For many years her medical team searched for a bone marrow match without success. It took seven years to finally identify a match for Valerie but in 1999 she received a bone marrow transplant that was a 5-out-of-6 match for her. After the transplant she suffered from graft –versus-host-disease (GVHD) and even today continues to have complications post transplant.
Diagnosed: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) – In Loving Memory
Heritage: African American, Korean, Caucasian, Native American
During his short life, Hunter inspired many and brought attention to the need for more multiethnic bone marrow donors. He impacted many people and his spirit was always bright even during his last days. He was known for loving to dance and for having the cutest giggle. Now the Thawleys have two young boys, but they still continue to write about and share memories of Hunter. His mother, Lenore, has since started up the Healing Hunter Foundation – A foundation fighting childhood cancers, one smile at a time, through random acts of kindness.
Diagnosis: Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) – Received bone marrow transplant – survivor of 5 years
Heritage: South Asian, Caucasian
Maya received a transplant and is recovering, but its still a slow battle. Her mother
is South Asian and her father is Caucasian. During filming she suffered a seizure brought on by complications with medication she was taking prior to her transplant. She was fortunate to meet the bone marrow donor that saved her life at an A3M fundraising dinner.
Bone Marrow Match: Bone marrow donor via bone marrow harvesting operation
Heritage: African American, European, Native American.
Alexandria had just found out that she was a bone marrow match for a 14-year-old in the US. Excited to help save this little girl’s life, Alexandria underwent a bone marrow harvesting operation at the City of Hope.