3-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Is The Flower Girl Of Bone Marrow Donor's Wedding
The special bond between donor and recipient is palpable as toddler Skye Savren-McCormick served as flower girl at her bone marrow donor's wedding.
Beautiful bride Hayden Hatfield Ryals, 26, gave Skye, 3, her bone marrow in 2016 to help the little girl fight juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Even if the pair only met a few days before the wedding, the lifelong connection is already there.
"I just feel like they're family and they're so special to me and the whole thing helped them, but it also changed my life," Hayden explains to Dothan Eagle. "After everything, after this journey, it's like God showed me this is why you were here. You were here to help this little girl and everything else will fall into place."
A Very Special Wedding
Hayden tied the knot with Adrian Ryals in early June 2018 and she had a very special guest who walked down ahead of her at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Hartford.
Skye took to the aisle gamely with a basket of flowers, moving all of the guests to tears. On her arm, she proudly wore a gift from the bride: a pearl bracelet with a charm inscribed with the child's name, Skye.
The Bone Marrow Match
It was back in 2015 when Hayden passed by a table for Be the Match, which is a Minnesota-based national registry for volunteer bone marrow donors. Having already previously donated blood and platelets, she opted to register as a potential bone marrow donor as well.
She describes registering as an easy process, simply swabbing the cheek and waiting for the rare match.
That same year, Todd and Talia Savren-McCormick welcomed their baby girl Skye. Unfortunately, days before their daughter's first birthday, she was diagnosed with a rare childhood leukemia called juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia.
In 2016, Be the Match contacted Hayden to tell her she was a match for the sick baby. At that time, the then-23 student was struggling to find a direction in life.
"I was feeling really down about everything. I was having trouble finding myself and feeling like I had a purpose," Hayden explains. "So, the more that I talked to this coordinator with Be the Match, I started feeling like what if this is my purpose?"
In July of 2016, bone marrow was extracted from the back of her pelvic bone. The following day, the bone marrow was immediately transplanted into Skye's bloodstream. Just weeks after, doctors confirmed that the child's body is producing new and healthy blood cells.
Later that year, Skye developed a secondary cancer called lymphoma, which she had to undergo chemotherapy and a second transplant. In 2017, she successfully went through the transplant.
It was the blushing bride who reached out to Skye during the toddler's birthday last March with a gift and an accompanying wedding invitation. Meeting Skye was a moving experience for Hayden, who tells ABC's World News Tonight that she dropped to her knees and couldn't stop smiling when she first met the little girl.
Talia says that their own family loves the 26-year-old just as much, explaining that she considers Hayden as part of the family.
"I always tell people they're smitten for one another," Skye's mother says in Good Morning America. "Skye calls her 'Hay Hay.'"