WIS reporter donates bone marrow to 2-year-old with rare blood disorder

WIS reporter donates bone marrow to 2-year-old with rare blood disorder
WIS reporter donates bone marrow to 2-year-old with rare blood disorder (Source: Judi Gatson)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - You see her on TV reporting on the big stories every day, but tonight she’s actually part of the story.

WIS’s Miranda Parnell recently received a phone call saying she was the best bone marrow match for a two-year-old with a rare and life-threatening blood disorder.

Doctors said it would take a miracle to give that little girl hope for a future. She got it, the day Miranda answered that call.


It’s not often you see people smiling while being prepped in the operating room.

But then again, it’s not every day that you get a chance to save a life.

This day came because of something Miranda did eight years ago while at the University of South Carolina.

She remembers seeing ‘Be the Match’ staff hosting a bone marrow drive on campus.

“I was basically just walking down Greene Street heading to class,” Miranda said. “Someone asked me if I wanted to do a quick cheek swab, and I said, ‘Sure!’”

After that big decision, Miranda some big moves.

She landed her first job as an education reporter in Augusta, quickly moved to bigger markets, working in Flint, Michigan and Dallas, Texas before deciding to return home.

Then it happened, at the most unexpected time, while out covering breaking news…she got the call.

“The first thing that’s running through my mind is, ‘This has got to be a scam,’” Miranda said. “So, in between when they initially called, and when I asked them to call me back, I put the number in Google, and it was, in fact, Be The Match.”

After realizing she potentially held the cure, she committed to whatever it took. Turns out there’s a strict protocol and checklist before you can donate that includes multiple blood tests, EKGs, and physicals.

“The two main goals at the end of the day are to help this little girl who’s in need of the donation, but to also get more people on the registry to help others who may be in need,” she said.

Things took off quickly when we got word the patient was ready. Miranda’s mom, Linda, joined the “go-team” and provided encouragement every step of the way.

After flying out of Columbia, and a layover in Charlotte, we finally touched down in DC. Mrs. Linda made sure we got to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital early the next morning!

Within minutes they had Miranda in the operating room prepping for the procedure.

In a word, the transplant team is amazing. They explained the process step-by-step and more importantly answered all of Mama P’s questions (she’s an OR nurse and plays no games.)

With Mom at ease, Miranda was ready to go.

During the procedure, a special needle was used to remove liquid marrow from inside Miranda’s pelvic bone. There are two incisions but they’re less than one-fourth inch long…so, no stitches.

Surprisingly, the surgery doesn’t take very long, and by the time we were able to see Miranda, the bone marrow was already on its way to the two-year-old, along with prayers for a full recovery.

Doctors say patients usually experience some pain and discomfort for about two weeks.

Clearly, whatever post-surgery medication they gave Miranda made the pain go away, and had her feeling good.

The biggest concern following surgery was keeping the injection site, infection-free.

Every single person on the medical team thanked Miranda for giving the gift of life.

It’ll be some time before we know how our little two-year-old is doing, and if she’s lucky, her cure might also come with a dose of Miranda’s quick wit and maybe even a few dance moves.

If you’re interested in signing up for the registry, click here.

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