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A match made in heaven

Wyanet teen offers bone marrow to 1-year-old battling leukemia

Samantha Splitt
Samantha Splitt

“Live life fully, as yourself … and give life fully, to everyone else.” Those are the words that run through a Wyanet young lady’s head and heart, as she remembers her late friend ... 

Samantha Splitt is a selfless and spirited 19-year-old from Wyanet. She had a good friend named Cora Peters, and Cora was taken from this world in the unforgiving clutches of cancer. Splitt had never thought twice about donating blood to those in need, but as a loved one’s death challenges even the most sturdy souls, Splitt decided she would do so as a way to honor her friend. 

She donated at Illinois Valley Community College in January 2016, but her experience did not go well. The nurse taking her blood blew out one of her veins, and Splitt ventured to find some refreshments and calm down from the miscalculation. 

“A really nice lady came up and started talking to me about Be the Match,” Splitt said, explaining Be the Match is the No. 1 hematopoietic cell registry, which assists patients who are fighting blood, bone marrow or immune diseases.

“Keeping Cora in my mind, I signed up,” she said.

The representative from Be the Match took mouth swabs from Splitt and sent them in for DNA testing. Splitt said most people don’t get a DNA match within their own family, hence the reliance upon entities such as Be the Match.

“Most people don’t get contacted by Be the Match in the first five years because it’s only a one in 20,000 chance you match up,” Splitt said. “(On Thursday, March 24) I got an email and text message from Be the Match saying I was someone’s match.”

On a phone call that followed, Samantha learned her match is a 1-year-old little girl battling a vicious form of leukemia.

While in South Dakota on spring break, Splitt recently had blood work done, and will find out in the next two months whether she will be an angel for a princess. If Splitt and the 1-year-old girl are a perfect match, Splitt will undergo a surgical procedure where bone marrow will be removed from both of her hips and given to the little girl.

Giving life

If it wasn’t for Cora, Splitt never would have given blood. She never would have met the woman from Be the Match, and her heart would not be overflowing with gratitude for the opportunity before her.

“I am so glad those bad things did happen because if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten this chance to prolong and enhance someone’s life,” Splitt said, noting Be the Match provides vital assistance to more than 500 individuals each year. “This has taught me that even though something really bad has happened, there’s always an opportunity to give, and with this I am giving the best thing — life!”

Splitt said she is grateful to help someone she doesn’t even know because it could be a member of her family in need some day down the road, and she would hope for the same treatment from someone else. She emphasized the wonderful opportunity is something more people should take advantage of.

“I am so thrilled I can help a little child with their fight because I love children, and being that young and going through so much has to be hard not only on her, but on her parents as well,” Splitt said, adding this experience has already changed her for the better. “Even if I’m not this little girl’s match, I will not lose hope that someday I could give someone another opportunity at life.”

Splitt understands there will be pain involved in the surgery but said the joy and happiness she could offer this little girl and her family will make it worth it. If Splitt does indeed match up to this young child and the procedure takes place, Splitt will be allowed to meet the little girl within the year.

“I now really look at life as precious because Cora is such an inspiration for me to do anything in my power to help this little girl,” she said. “I couldn’t be more blessed to go through this experience.”

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