Makayla Claussen graduates tomorrow with a degree from the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sports Studies alongside 4,800 other graduates. All of these graduates will proudly have family and friends and others who supported them along the way in the audience. But Makayla will have someone even more special to her; the one person who was able to save her life.
Makayla, your average healthy, active college sophomore student suddenly became very ill. Testing at Vanderbilt led to the diagnosis of HLH, an autoimmune disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, and stage four non-Hodgkin’s T-cell lymphoma. Treatment for Makayla included chemotherapy, blood transfusions, steroids, antibiotics and two central line placements. But Makayla was determined to live to get her degree.
Stem cell testing and reaching out to the Be the Match agency yielded one confirmed donor in 27 million. Claudia Reverts in Emden, Germany; someone Makayla had never met but who through her greathearted donation, saved her life.
Makayla’s graduation tomorrow will be a time in her life she will never forget; a time and a life that without Revert’s generosity, would never have been possible.