A grim diagnosis followed by an act of selflessness: that’s how Hilari De Leon got a second chance at life.
“What do you say to someone who literally saved my daughter’s life?,” Irmalinda De Leon asked. “She was literally on her death bed. I don’t even know what to say.”
Hilari was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia in 2016. It’s a rare blood disorder which keeps her bone marrow from producing new blood cells. She needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.
The disease nearly killed Hilari. She underwent painful treatment for months.
“We continued with weekly blood transfusions and platelets,” Irmalinda De Leon said.
At times, the family prepared for the worst.
“Being that it can be fatal, that’s why we did the Disney trip the week of her birthday. I didn’t know what to expect,” De Leon said.
Hope came in the form of a phone call in 2017.
“As soon as I heard about it I was like, ‘Yeah.’ I mean, I’d be all for helping someone out, even if I didn’t know them, if I could potentially save their life in a sense,” Samuel Palacios said.
Palacios had committed to the bone marrow registry in 2012. He said the choice to donate was easy.
“I was told that I was a potential match. I knew very little about Hilari, and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity,” Palacios said.
A year and a half post-transplant, Hilari is meeting the person who gave her a new beginning.
“I get to play outside, climb trees, go the playground,” Hilari said.
She is now back in school and cherishing time with friends and family. These simple things once seemed out of reach.
For more information on how to become a bone marrow donor, visit https://bethematch.org/