BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – It’s been 20 years since the community gathered around a little girl to save her life. Thousands of strangers willing to give a piece of themselves so that Mikella McAuley could survive. Unfortunately, she passed away just a few months later at the tender age of 6. But now other children like Mikella are getting a second chance in life thanks to a generous donation from their family.
Mikella McAuley had an unforgettable smile and a sweet spirit – but she was diagnosed with leukemia in late 2000. Her only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant.
In 2001, two mobile bone marrow screening drives in Bakersfield brought out more than 2,000 people – strangers who waited for hours to see if they could be Mikella’s competition. At the time, it cost just under $ 100 per person to be included in the registry, but that cost was offset by multiple fundraisers hosted by friends and family members of the McAuleys.
Unfortunately, Mikella died before a bone marrow match could be found. But because of their struggle, the Houchin blood bank became a permanent place where people could be enrolled in the bone marrow registry to help others.
“There was money left over from fundraising,” said Christa McAuley, Mikella’s mother. “I donated to the Houchin Blood Bank because I wanted to keep their legacy alive and to help others. And so, anyone tested or enrolled in Kern County’s registration or bone marrow approvals in the past 20 years has been donated to this fund for free. “
But thanks to advances in technology, enrollment in the bone marrow registry is now free. That is why Christa McAuley set up a charitable foundation with the remaining funds. She recently donated $ 10,000 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of her daughter.
“I chose the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for obvious reasons,” said McAuley. “Because Mikella died of CML, of leukemia, and they’re one of the non-profit organizations that actually help families when they’re going through a crisis.”
“In Kern County, $ 10,000 can go as far and we have so many patients who just need travel assistance, co-payment assistance, so many things, patient services, and research. It really means a lot to us, ”said Barbara DeMita, Campaign Development Manager at LLS.
Now the community touched by Mikella’s story will benefit from the many kindnesses shown to this little girl 20 years ago.
“For me, for her mother, I will never forget her, but this is how Kern County can remember my daughter and her legacy because she was such a great little girl. She brought a community together for one cause, and that cause was to save her life. “
Research into treating childhood leukemia has come this far in the past 20 years, according to LLS.
Back then, the most common form of leukemia had a survival rate of 73%; today it is up to 95%.