Celebrating life after a cord blood transplant

April 4 is just another day to most people. But to Erika Evans, it’s an important one. This year, it marked the fifth anniversary of the day she had a double umbilical cord blood transplant at MD Anderson for her acute myeloid leukemia (AML) treatment. And for Erika, the fact that she’s still around for the milestone at all was cause for celebration. “When I was diagnosed, I was given very little hope of survival,” Erika says. “I want people to know it’s possible not just to survive, but to thrive and to live a healthy, wonderful life again.” Spreading awareness about cord blood donations When Erika had her own children about 20 years ago, cord blood banking wasn’t an option. But today, she encourages other expectant parents to donate their babies’ cord blood by sharing her story at Lamaze classes. She also works closely with an international nonprofit dedicated to finding tissue-type matches for blood cancer patients seeking stem cell transplants. “I can’t put into words how grateful I am to the parents who donated their babies’ cord blood,” Erika says. “They didn’t just save my life; they saved an entire family. Because of them, my kids still have their mother, my mom still has her daughter, my sister still has her sibling and my friends still have their buddy.” Erika is also actively cultivating the next generation of cord blood donors in her family. “I can guarantee that my kids will be donating their babies’ cord blood when that day comes,” she says. “Cord blood holds the promise of cures for so many horrific diseases.” Sharing hope...