Mother with leukemia inspires hundreds to register as marrow, stem cell donors before death

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter, Rob Garza - Photojournalist, Sal Salazar - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - For seven months, Taylor Castro fought both to beat her cancer and to help save lives by inspiring people to sign up as bone marrow and stem cell donors.

"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 with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, an aggressive blood cancer that left her tired and unable to work. Throughout her own struggle, she used her story to urge others to join the National Marrow Donor Program through the Be The Match Registry, which could provide her and others with their best chance for a cure.

Unfortunately, Castro never got the peripheral stem cell transplant she needed and lost her own fight with cancer on April 28, less than a week before her 26th birthday. Her mission to help others, however, was a clear success.

Castro's story helped to get more than 1,600 people registered with Be The Match -- a result that has helped provider her family with a measure of solace in their grief.

"I couldn't be more proud of a daughter, of her giving herself for this mission, for other people. It is amazing," said Castro's mother, Naomi Herrera.

Herrera said their family wants to continue Castro's mission an encourage people to register as stem cell and bone marrow donors and to donate blood, platelets and red blood cells.

"We're going stronger for Taylor. Yes, because we're Team Taylor. Always," Herrera said.

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 "GENCURE" 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 with no history of serious illness. Registered donors will be on the list until they are 61 years old.

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