Gray TV reporter in S.C. donates bone marrow to 2-year-old with rare blood disorder

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS/Gray News) - South Carolina residents see her on TV reporting big stories every day, but now she’s part of one.

A reporter from WIS in Columbia, S.C. donated bone marrow to a 2-year-old with rare blood disorder. (Source: Judi Gatson/WIS/Gray News)

Miranda Parnell, a reporter with Gray station WIS, recently received a phone call saying she was the best bone marrow match for a 2-year-old with a rare and life-threatening blood disorder.

Doctors said it would take a miracle to give that little girl hope for a future. She got it the day Parnell answered that call.

It’s not often you see people smiling while being prepped in the operating room. It’s not every day you get a chance to save a life.

The day came because of something Parnell did eight years ago while at the University of South Carolina.

She remembers seeing "Be the Match" staff hosting a bone marrow drive on campus.

“I was basically just walking down Greene Street heading to class,” she said. “Someone asked me if I wanted to do a quick cheek swab, and I said, ‘Sure!’”

After that big decision, Parnell made some big moves.

She landed her first job as an education reporter in Augusta, Ga. then quickly moved to bigger markets, working in Flint, Mich. and Dallas before deciding to return home.

Then it happened at the most unexpected time while out covering breaking new: she got the call.

“The first thing that’s running through my mind is, ‘This has got to be a scam,’” Parnell said. “So, in between when they initially called and when I asked them to call me back, I put the number in Google. And it was, in fact, Be The Match.”

After realizing she potentially held the cure, she committed to whatever it took. Turns out there’s a strict protocol and checklist before you can donate that includes multiple blood tests, EKGs and physicals.

“The two main goals at the end of the day are to help this little girl who’s in need of the donation but to also get more people on the registry to help others who may be in need,” she said.

Things took off quickly when she got word the patient was ready. Parnell’s mom, Linda, joined the “go-team” and provided encouragement every step of the way.

After flying out of Columbia and a layover in Charlotte, she touched down in Washington D.C. Her mother made sure they got to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital early the next morning.

Within minutes, they had Parnell in the operating room prepping for the procedure.

The transplant team explained the process step-by-step and more importantly answered all of Mama P’s questions (she’s an OR nurse and plays no games.)

With Mom at ease, Parnell was ready to go.

During the procedure, a special needle was used to remove liquid marrow from inside Miranda’s pelvic bone. There were two incisions but they’re less than one-fourth inch long, so no stitches.

The surgery doesn’t take very long, and by the time Parnell was receiving visitors, the bone marrow was already on its way to the 2-year-old, along with prayers for a full recovery.

Doctors say patients usually experience some pain and discomfort for about two weeks.

Whatever post-surgery medication they gave Parnell made the pain go away and had her feeling good.

The biggest concern following surgery was keeping the injection site infection-free.

Every single person on the medical team thanked Parnell for giving the gift of life.

It’ll be some time before she learns how the little girl is doing.

If you’re interested in signing up for the registry, click here.

Copyright 2019 WIS via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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