San Antonio-area student donates bone marrow to save Arizona boy’s life

Meeting between donor, recipient delayed due to boy’s illness, COVID-19 restrictions

Bree Randle had no idea her bone marrow might be needed until a chance encounter after band practice.

SAN ANTONIO – These days we are isolating, trying not to share air with others for fear of coronavirus infections. That makes a San Antonio-area student’s quest to share her bone marrow certainly inspiring.

Bree Randle had no idea her bone marrow might be needed until a chance encounter after band practice.

“I only found out because they had a station set up at Texas State (University) in our quad,” said Randle of her chance registration with Be the Match.

She soon learned that the likelihood of finding a bone marrow match as an African American was down around 23%, as compared to 77% for those who qualify as white/caucasian.

So imagine her surprise when she was matched perfectly with a young man in Phoenix who had been suffering from sickle cell anemia his whole life.

Kwincy Lassiter has fought off pain crisis after pain crisis year after year, the most common sickle cell symptom. He was matched with a bone marrow donor several years earlier, but that donor backed out for an unknown reason.

Bree did not, and the donation occurred back in 2016.

“I’m excited to meet her and thank her for being a registered donor,” said Kwincy shortly before their meeting was scheduled to happen at Cardinal Stadium in Arizona in June of this year. It took so long for them to meet due to his illness, and then coronavirus restrictions hit the U.S.

It was a bit nerve-wracking for all involved, with Bree worried they would not get along. But after many hugs and even a gift of roses to Kwincy’s donor, it appeared all tension was broken between the two families who now share a marrow transplant.

Ericka Lassiter has worked for this moment since Kwincy was born.

“We need more young people in the match like her, someone who can save the life of someone who needs it,” Ericka said of Bree.

“I just prayed about it. Bree always made the right choices, so I knew it would be OK,” said Pamela Randle, Bree’s mother.

Aside from a bit of soreness, Bree said that the pain after the transplant was minimal, and no after effects, making her a cheerleader for Be The Match’s efforts to register more potential donors.

“If more people became more educated about it, then more minorities would step out. But it also goes into the whole stigma of minorities not being as involved in things,” Bree said.

She says she’s now studying social work at the University of Texas at Arlington, hoping to become an advocate for people.

As for Kwincy, this meeting was doubly special at Cardinal Stadium for his family. His father was a starter for the Cardinals for eight seasons. This will likely be the first winter season of his life where he does not have a pain crisis thanks to Bree’s donation.

For more information on how to register to be a bone marrow donor, check out www.bethematch.org.


About the Authors:

Ursula Pari has been a staple of television news in Texas at KSAT 12 News since 1996 and a veteran of broadcast journalism for more than 30 years.

Dominic Lawrence is an Emmy award-winning video editor at KSAT. Before coming to KSAT, he graduated from Texas Tech University while working at KCBD in Lubbock as a photojournalist. He is a Star Wars fan and enjoys spending time out with his dog.