Young cancer survivor meets nursing student who saved his life

A young cancer survivor had the opportunity to meet the Ohio nursing student who saved his life. 

They were perfect strangers and genetic twins.  

"I'm so happy I was able to meet you guys and was given the opportunity to even cross paths in this crazy life," said Kaelynn, a 19-year-old Ohio college student who donated stem cells last year.

The donation was transferred to one-year-old Mads Pomranky of Bourbonnais.   

"He had a very rare form of leukemia that could only be cured through transplant," said Mads’ mom, Jenn Pomranky. "He would not be here without somebody on the registry, without Kaelynn."

When Mads was just 5-months-old, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.  

Doctors said he needed a stem cell transplant to survive.  

His parents were only a half match, since children inherit fifty percent of their genes from their mother and fifty percent from their father.  

His family turned to DKMS, a non-profit that matches families with a stem cell donor.  

"Only about one percent of people who join the registry, are matched up so it really is like finding your genetic twin," said Olivia Haddox, a DKMS Donor Recruitment Coordinator.  

Months earlier, Kaelynn had submitted a genetic sample for the national stem cell and bone marrow registry at a college fair.  

Just a simple cheek swab was all it took!  

"Seventy percent of everybody that's diagnosed with a blood cancer or blood disorder that would require a stem cell or bone marrow transplant, requires somebody that's on the registry," said Jenn.  

Once a donor is a match, they receive a series of injections, then head to an outpatient clinic.  

The process can take from four to eight hours and is similar to donating blood.  


The donor does not lose any blood and the donated stem cells regenerate in a matter of weeks. 

The most common side effect is fatigue.  

Mads received Kaelynn’s stem cells in a 30-minute transfusion at Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago. 

After four months of recovery, he was back home.  

Now, he is cancer free and in remission.   

"Just something super simple and you could save a life and how amazing. I mean Kaelynn can tell her story to everyone and we can tell the story, but here's proof right here.  It's really cool," said Jenn.

To be a part of the national registry, go to and request a free swab kit.  

If you are selected to donate, the patient’s insurance will take care of the cost and DKMS will cover any travel or donation related expenses.