CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -The Boothe family of Barberton was hit with devastating news three years ago when their new born baby girl was diagnosed with leukemia.
Still just a baby, Autumn went through several rounds of chemotherapy.
Doctors determined she would need a bone marrow transplant to save her life.
When her parents found out they were not a match for Autumn, they began working with the non-profit agency Be The Match.
Be The Match is a nationwide bone marrow registry of people who have committed to providing marrow if they are the perfect match for someone battling cancer or blood and immune disorders.
Be The Match “plays a role in every non-related marrow transplant in the United States. In 2019, Be The Match facilitated its 100,000th marrow transplant. Last year alone, Be The Match facilitated more than 6,000 bone marrow transplants,” according to a spokesperson.
Be the Match gave the Boothe family the hope they were looking for.
“We started searching for a match around February of 2018 and her transplant was in June," Autumn’s mother, Brittany Boothe said. “We had to change donors halfway through. Autumn’s first match fell through.”
The second chance at a match for Autumn turned out to be miles away and from an unlikely source.
Maj. Mike Rowland is an Army surgeon, who was stationed in Syria at the time, and was a perfect match.
“We felt so relieved that she found a donor," Brittany Boothe said. “We were just so thankful. When we found out he was in the military, it made me even more emotional. I cried reading the letter he sent to us and looking at his pictures. I think about him every day.”
It wasn’t just a sense of duty that had Rowland on the bone marrow donor list.
Rowland lost his mother to leukemia.
While the major is currently stationed in Texas, he has ties to Ohio.
Originally he’s from Indiana, but Rowland has family in Ohio and got his first degree at The Ohio State University and went to medical school in Toledo.
The two sides of this heartwarming story will finally get to meet later this month in Northeast Ohio.
If you would like to become a donor and work with Be The Match, it starts with a swab of your cheek.
It also takes cash donations which help pay for the transplants.
“The average cost of a bone marrow transplant is about $300,000 for the recipient,” according to Be The Match. “The average cost for a donor’s procedure is about $35,000. Be The Match covers the entire cost of the transplant for the donor plus flights, hotels, and meals. Be The Match covers recipient costs that are not covered by insurance.”