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A Notre Dame graduate gives the gift of life

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

A soon to be Notre Dame Graduate never imagined he’d be saving another person’s life. Thanks to DKMS, a non-profit leading the fight against blood cancer, this student and a 13-year-old boy were matched for a bone marrow transplant.

Luis Miranda is the son of undocumented parents from Guatemala. A week from today,  he will be walking across the Notre Dame stage with a master’s degree in peace studies.

But perhaps the one thing on his mind will be the fact that he had the opportunity to save someone’s life. “It’s interesting that there’s somebody else out there who is living breathing, walking, sleeping, running that has my blood in them,” says Miranda.

Things have not always been easy for Miranda. He tells ABC57 after losing his eldest sister to violence in Guatemala, he felt powerless.

“We couldn’t bring her back. There’s nothing we could have done and we loved her,” he said. “Having lost her and not having the opportunity to do something was difficult for us.”

And it wasn’t until he got a call that he was a match for a bone marrow transplant, that the idea of powerlessness started fading. “When I proceeded and was able to save someone else’s life that family was powerless. They couldn’t produce that bone marrow, but for this moment I could actually help change their lives.”

Miranda registered to be a bone marrow donor back in 2008 and forgot he even registered.

“After we talked I was like, ‘Oh yeah!  I remember I signed up so long ago.’ I was like this is my opportunity to do something special for someone else.

To protect patient privacy Miranda didn’t have the slightest idea of who he was helping in their battle against leukemia. “They only tell us ‘Hey, this is going to be a boy of this age, he lives in the US and he has this form of leukemia’ and that’s it.”

Soon after the phone call he agreed to start his bone marrow journey and flew to Washington D.C. for the extraction. “On the very same day there’s someone that carries the bone marrow over to where ever that child was.It was pretty special to have an opportunity to help someone else,” he said.

This April he got a call from DKMS asking if he’d like to meet his recipient for the first time. “The recipient and the family would like to meet you. I was like that’s so cool I’d like to meet them too,” says Miranda.

After watching short clips on who the recipient was Miranda knew he had saved 13- year-old Ezra Miller’s life. “If I hadn’t done the transplant Ezra would not be with us today.”

Miranda tells ABC57 doing something as simple as swabbing his cheek, years ago, saved someone’s life, even though he felt like he couldn’t save his sister.  

“One life lost is too many,” he says. “This is something where everyone is important, where everyone can contribute and it doesn’t matter who you are on the other side.”

You can register to become a donor with DKMS here.

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