San Antonoi – Even as she waited for the peripheral blood stem cell transplant that was her best chance for a cure, Taylor Castro was thinking of others.
“If we can’t find my match, but we can find for somebody else, that’s -- it really is good enough for me,” Castro said in a December 2018 interview.
The young mother of three was diagnosed in October 2018 with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, an aggressive blood cancer that left her tired and unable to work. She was unable to get the transplant she needed and died on Apr. 28, 2019, less than a week away from her 26th birthday.
Throughout her own struggle, Castro used her story to urge others to join the National Marrow Donor Program through the Be The Match Registry, which could provide her and other patients fighting blood cancers and other blood diseases with their best chance for a cure.
Even in death, Castro continues to inspire others. The “Team Taylor” Facebook page posts frequently about the importance of registering as a donor and donating blood and plasma, and at least 6,243 people have used Castro’s code or link to register as stem cell and marrow donors.
“So that is fully committed. Like, they finished their profile, they did their swabs, their testing is done. They are on the list, waiting to be called,” said Castro’s mother, Naomi Herrera.
Herrera is a senior manager at GenCure’s apheresis center, where the same type of stem cells her daughter needed are collected from donors.
“I just show them a picture of Taylor. It’s like, ‘You need to see somebody who you’re helping?’ This is what they look like,” Herrera said.
Some day, Herrera hopes one of the many people her daughter inspired to register will come in for a collection -- there to save someone else’s life because of Castro.
In the meantime, she is focused on ensuring more people sign up for the registry, getting the number of donors registered because of her daughter up to 10,000. That way, when someone gets sick like Castro did, there will already be someone registered and ready to donate.
ANNIVERSARY OF TAYLOR CASTRO’S DEATH
To remember Castro, Herrera has asked supporters of Team Taylor to post a photo in their Team Taylor T-shirts and tag the page. Those without shirts, can wear an orange one for leukemia or a pink one, which was Castro’s favorite color.
HOW TO REGISTER
If you would like to sign up as a bone marrow or stem cell donor on the Be The Match Registry, you can text “TAYLOR” to 61474 to be sent a link for registration, or you can visit join.bethematch.org/Taylor.
Those who complete the form will receive a cheek swab kit that will need to be used and returned by mail.
Potential donors must be in good health and between 18 and 44 years of age with no history of serious illness. Registered donors will be on the list until they are 61 years old.