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Nursing student saves boy’s life through stem cell donation

A nursing student who saved the life of a Chicago boy through stem cell donation finally got to meet the boy and his family in person.Mads Pomranky, 3, was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in November 2019. His doctors said he would need a transplant. His parents were only partial matches.Kaelynn Speed was a freshman at Wright State University studying nursing when she signed up for a DKMS booth on campus. She went through the process of becoming a registered donor and later found out she was a 10/10 match for someone. After a successful transplant, Mads has been cancer free for two years. The emotional meeting between both families happened Friday after Mads’ family made the trip to Cincinnati from the Chicago area where they live. “You’re amazing. You’re so nice. I love you,” Jenn Pomranky, Mads’ mom said through tears. “I love you too, honey,” Speed said. “I’m experiencing a lot of overwhelming joy. How do I feel? How do you put a mark on something so great? I don’t know.”Mads’ cancer journey was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital regulations were tight, and plans around Mads’ transplant changed due to hospitals limiting procedures. “At first they were only allowing one parent, so I had to stay home for a while,” Derrick Pomranky, Mads’ father, said. “Yeah, it was terrible.” Mads’ perfect match lived about 300 miles away. Speed was preparing for her finals when she got the call. She passed the testing requirements with ease. In the spring of 2020, she received injections at home to boost her stem cell count. During an hours-long procedure, a machine filtered her blood and collected the blood-forming cells for Mads. Mercy Health Cincinnati Cancer and Cellular Therapy Center harvest the cells. The University of Chicago completed the process. A short time later Mads’ doctors said he was cancer free.”It was a huge relief, and then every time he’s went in for another biopsy, it’s always been a relief,” Derrick Pomranky said. The Pomranky and Speed families now share a special bond.”As soon as I grabbed Kaelynn I couldn’t stop crying,” Jenn Pomranky said. “I mean what she did is so amazing, and we just love her so much. And it’s just so exciting to actually be able to give her a huge hug and just say thank you in person.””She feels like an extension of our family now,” Derrick Pomranky said. Speed said the decision to donate was easy, and it did not take a lot of her time. “Ten hours of your life for the rest of someone else’s is insane,” she said. Speed has become a fierce advocate for DKMS and is passionate about raising awareness for stem cell donation. It starts with a quick cheek swab. You can learn more here.

A nursing student who saved the life of a Chicago boy through stem cell donation finally got to meet the boy and his family in person.

Mads Pomranky, 3, was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in November 2019. His doctors said he would need a transplant. His parents were only partial matches.

Kaelynn Speed was a freshman at Wright State University studying nursing when she signed up for a DKMS booth on campus. She went through the process of becoming a registered donor and later found out she was a 10/10 match for someone.

After a successful transplant, Mads has been cancer free for two years.

The emotional meeting between both families happened Friday after Mads’ family made the trip to Cincinnati from the Chicago area where they live.

“You’re amazing. You’re so nice. I love you,” Jenn Pomranky, Mads’ mom said through tears.

“I love you too, honey,” Speed said. “I’m experiencing a lot of overwhelming joy. How do I feel? How do you put a mark on something so great? I don’t know.”

Mads’ cancer journey was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital regulations were tight, and plans around Mads’ transplant changed due to hospitals limiting procedures.

“At first they were only allowing one parent, so I had to stay home for a while,” Derrick Pomranky, Mads’ father, said. “Yeah, it was terrible.”

Mads’ perfect match lived about 300 miles away. Speed was preparing for her finals when she got the call. She passed the testing requirements with ease.

In the spring of 2020, she received injections at home to boost her stem cell count. During an hours-long procedure, a machine filtered her blood and collected the blood-forming cells for Mads.

Mercy Health Cincinnati Cancer and Cellular Therapy Center harvest the cells. The University of Chicago completed the process.

A short time later Mads’ doctors said he was cancer free.

“It was a huge relief, and then every time he’s went in for another biopsy, it’s always been a relief,” Derrick Pomranky said.

The Pomranky and Speed families now share a special bond.

“As soon as I grabbed Kaelynn I couldn’t stop crying,” Jenn Pomranky said. “I mean what she did is so amazing, and we just love her so much. And it’s just so exciting to actually be able to give her a huge hug and just say thank you in person.”

“She feels like an extension of our family now,” Derrick Pomranky said.

Speed said the decision to donate was easy, and it did not take a lot of her time.

“Ten hours of your life for the rest of someone else’s is insane,” she said.

Speed has become a fierce advocate for DKMS and is passionate about raising awareness for stem cell donation. It starts with a quick cheek swab. You can learn more here.



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