Toddler cancer survivor serves as flower girl to bone marrow donor

Desiree Burns
July 4, 2018

The families know the meeting won't be their last and they plan on being a part of each other's lives forever. She was in the hospital for 10 months because of complications while getting treatment.

"I started feeling like what if this is my objective?" the Hartford, Ala., native told the Dothan Eagle. "It changed the way I looked at life". Though Skye is too young to know that Ryals helped save her life, she knows that Ryals is somebody special, her mother said.

After feeling lost and lacking goal at college, Hayden had signed up with registry Be the Match to be a bone marrow donor. It was nearly exactly a year later when she received a phone call - she was a match to an anonymous 1-year-old child many miles away.

"I had started to question whether I had a objective here", she said. This, she said, gave her objective again.

Savren-McCormick was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia just before her first birthday in March 2016, CBS affiliate WHIO-TV wrote.

She needed a bone-marrow transplant.

Donating bone marrow is anonymous, so Ryals and Skye didn't meet.

It would be a long road to recovery.

"She saved our daughter's life". It had attacked her eyelid, both sides of her neck, her chest and her spinal column, her father said.

Savren-McCormick said that because there are regulations on donations, they returned to the Be the Match registry and found another donor - this time, using peripheral blood stem cells instead of the bone marrow. But after chemotherapy and more bone marrow transplants, she pulled through. "She got us to a place where we could survive this".

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And Luis Delgadillo with the USDA said drying your hands, versus just shaking them off, is a step that shouldn't be ignored. At least 128,000 people are hospitalized - and 3,000 die - from foodborne illnesses in the USA annually.

But Ryals said she didn't save the toddler.

While the Savren-McCormicks are based in California, it was a no brainer when they received the invite for Skye to help celebrate Hayden's wedding by serving as a flower girl.

Be the Match's policy requires donors and recipients not to contact each other for a year after the transplant.

Skye's parents, Todd and Talia Savren-McCormick, flew with their little girl to attend the wedding at Shiloh Baptist Church in Hartford. "So the more that I talked to this coordinator with Be the Match, I started feeling like, what if this is my goal?"

Despite the complications and the heartache, Skye's parents Talia and Todd have always credited Hayden with getting their daughter past that first hard hurdle.

"That changed everything", Ryals said. She walked over to Skye, she said, and fell to her knees.

"She's a fighter, and she is full of spunk, and she just has the best attitude, and I think everybody could learn something from this 3-year old", Ryals said.

"It was like a fairy tale", Ryals said. "It was unreal. It was magical". "I've never been able to explain it", she said. "Nothing will ever match what it was like to experience hearing her say that".

"It's sort of like we got a new family in Alabama and it's been joyous", he said.

Soon after, Savren-McCormick wowed the crowd as she threw flower petals down the aisle for the bride, wearing a special present from Ryals: a bracelet of pearls inscribed with her name.

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