OHSU Doernbecher cancer survivor meets lifesaving bone marrow donor

04/10/12  Portland, Ore.

Donor and recipient hope to raise awareness, increase the number of ethnic minorities in the national bone marrow donor registry


OHSU Doernbecher patient and cancer survivor Stella Monteverde-Cakebread, 10, will meet the man who saved her life at a celebration designed to thank friends and community members, and to encourage more ethnic minorities to participate in the Be the Match National Marrow Donor Program.

The celebration, which comes nearly two years after Stella’s transplant, is free and will feature DJ Jimbo, a slide show and, most importantly, the opportunity to become a bone marrow donor with a simple cheek swab.


Sunday, April 15, from 1 to 4 p.m.


McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. Portland, OR 97211


Stella Monteverde, a fifth-grader at Sabin School, was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia when she was 8 years old. Due to the aggressive nature of this type of leukemia, Stella's only chance for cure was a bone marrow transplant from a volunteer, unrelated donor.

Because of her mixed ethnicity — Spanish, Peruvian and Europe Caucasian – her chances of finding a compatible match were slim.

"It can be extremely difficult and take months to identify a compatible bone marrow donor for a patient, especially in cases of mixed ethnicity or for non-Caucasian ethnicities that are currently underrepresented in the donor registry," said Allison Franco, R.N., B.S.N., pediatric bone marrow transplant coordinator at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

But Stella and the OHSU Doernbecher Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant team beat the odds, and her "miracle," Travis Black, 29, of Washington, D.C., whose parents are of Mexican and European Caucasian descent, and his wife, Jillian, are flying to Portland to meet her and help inspire others to join the national bone marrow donor registry.

"After a transplant, patients and donors are required to wait a minimum of one year before there is the opportunity to possibly become un-anonymous to each other. It's a very special event when a patient and donor actually have the chance to meet in person — a true celebration of life," explained Franco.

"We are hoping to inspire our community to register, to help give others a second chance by seeing what this gift looks like. We are also saying thank you to all of our support through these past two years," said Stella's mother, Dayna Cakebread.

Stella has joined Team Be the Match to encourage more people to become bone marrow donors. Participate and learn more.

About OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital

OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital ranks among the top children's hospitals in the United States in eight clinical specialties.* It ranks 36th nationally for NIH-awarded pediatric research funding among children's hospitals affiliated with an academic medical center**, and is one of only 22 NIH-designated Child Health Research Centers in the country.

OHSU Doernbecher cares for tens of thousands of children each year from Oregon, southwest Washington and around the nation, resulting in more than 175,000 discharges, surgeries, transports and outpatient visits annually.

Nationally recognized OHSU Doernbecher physicians and nurses provide a full range of pediatric care in the most patient- and family-centered environment. These highly trained clinicians also travel throughout Oregon and southwest Washington, providing specialty care to more than 3,000 children at more than 150 outreach clinics in 15 locations. In addition, OHSU Doernbecher delivers neonatal and pediatric critical care consultation to community hospitals statewide through its state-of-the-art telemedicine network.

* U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals 2011-12
** National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions