New Rochelle teen with blood disorder, bone marrow donor meet for 1st time at gala

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ByJim Dolan via WABC logo
Friday, April 8, 2022
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A local teen and a total stranger are bonded for life through a donation that has changed both of them forever. Jim Dolan has the heartwarming story.

NEW ROCHELLE, New York (WABC) -- A local teen and a total stranger are bonded for life through a donation that has changed both of them forever.

Gwen Cinquemani, 17, and Haven, 35, never met in person before, but they cried when they met on stage Thursday night.

They hugged and they hugged again, and they celebrated with Cinquemani's parents.

A life of hope and promise and endless possibility almost ended before it really got started.

"I don't really know how words could express what me and my family feel but obviously we'd say thank you but I don't think that says enough," Cinquemani said.

The New Rochelle native is healthy and strong, and her future is as bright as her smile. But it wasn't long ago, all of that seemed a world away.

"In 2018 when I was 13 years old I was diagnosed with a blood disorder called MDS and it was a little bit scary," she said.

"The hospital was our second home and we were going there every other day almost to have Gwen's blood checked, almost always to find out that her counts were very low, her hemoglobin, her platelets," her mom said.

For a year, that was their life. Without a healthy bone marrow transplant, Cinquemani might not have lived to see her next birthday. Until Haven Davis gave them a future.

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"Just knowing that she as so young when she received the donation, to hear about how her life has blossomed and to hear about her growing up and becoming the beautiful, young woman that she is, is pretty mind blowing," Davis said.

Thursday's gala was to raise money for the infrastructure of the Be the Match program. And judging from the look of the well-heeled crowd, they probably raised some.

But all the money in the world won't help, without young, healthy willing donors.

Haven and Cinquemani got to know each other a bit online before Thursday. It's been quite a journey.

"I think I'm going to be thinking about it for the rest of my life, I don't really know how to fully process kind of the depth of what has happened," Davis said.

"She's literally a life saver and I hope she knows that and if she doesn't I'm gonna tell her until she knows it," Cinquemani's mom said.

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