Meet Briana, 18-year-old diagnosed with a rare blood disease

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Briana doesn't let her illness get in the way of spreading awareness about the "Be the Match" program.

Two months after Briana's 18th birthday, she was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia - a rare blood disease in which bone marrow does not make any blood cells necessary for survival. Only about 600-900 people are diagnosed with it each year. She began treatment for her illness immediately, receiving blood transfusions for hemoglobin and platelets in order to keep her breathing. She was told she would need to prepare for an ATG treatment, which is an immunosuppressive therapy. It didn't work. The only other option for Briana was to have a bone marrow transplant.

Like 70 percent of the population, Briana didn't have any related donors and had to turn to the Be The Match Registry. As a young 18-year-old woman, so many things were going through her mind: would I go to college, would I have children? Briana was able to freeze her eggs before any chemotherapy and radiation began. It was a long and very specific process - not something many 18 year old's are thinking about, but Briana now has 14 mature eggs waiting for her "older self".

Briana was admitted into the hospital December 11, 2014 to begin her journey for her first transplant. Three weeks after receiving her transplant, she was told that she had graft failure and that there was fungus in her sinuses and lungs. She had 4 surgeries on her nose and received many white blood cell transfusions to remove and help fight off the fungus before having her second transplant from a different donor. Briana had her second transplant on March 17, 2015.

Briana said that throughout her journey she has discovered the true meaning of family and love, and it has helped her determine what she wants to do with her life, and exactly how she wants to live it. She said this journey has built up her self-confidence to extreme heights. She said "it has taught me how to become a prisoner of love, to forgive unforgivingly, and to lose all of my pride. I know now what kind of a woman I want to be, and how I am going to go about doing so. I am going to change the world, and show the world about God's love. I want to do anything that makes someone smile, and to do anything that gives back. I am determined to inspire and spread awareness, of not only my diagnosis, but about my journey."

"We need more people to spread awareness of what love is and what it can do." Briana said. Briana does whatever she can to promote Be The Match and the need for unrelated donors. She spreads awareness of Be The Match through all of her social media accounts; she uses yoga as a way to reach out to people; she is part of one of the biggest communities on Instagram and she uses her platform to inform people about signing up for the Be The Match Registry. Because of her advocacy so many of her friends, family and the community are now a part of the Be The Match Registry.

Join us in September as we work to save lives in our Month to Match.