2024 Miranda’s Story

Miranda's Journey

Miranda's Inspiring Story

2024 Mars Senior and Theater Superstar

Miranda was a very active 17-year-old who balanced high school with her musical theater program’s many activities. She began noticing that she was getting tired quickly and becoming out-of-breath more easily. She was also more pale than usual. She started getting frequent headaches that grew increasingly more severe until she was experiencing constant daily headaches. It was clear that something was wrong.

After numerous appointments with various specialists, she was sent to the Emergency Department at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh as her red and white blood cells, and platelet counts, were critically low and she needed a blood transfusion. Doctors told Miranda they suspected it was leukemia but required a bone marrow biopsy to confirm. The biopsy results were inconclusive due to the lack of cells in her bone marrow. After weeks of additional testing, she was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia (SAA), a rare and serious disease in which the bone marrow stops producing enough blood cells for the body. As a result, Miranda was dependent on blood and platelet transfusions to sustain her.

Miranda was given two potential treatment options, but a bone marrow transplant (also called a stem cell transplant) was the only potential curative treatment. After searching the National Marrow Donor Program Registry, and testing family members, Miranda’s sister Audrey was identified as a perfect bone marrow match. With this information, Miranda decided to move forward with a transplant.

Once the decision was made, there were many procedures needed to prepare Miranda’s body for the donor cells. Miranda was admitted into the hospital where she underwent a series of tests to ensure her body was strong enough for transplant, surgery to place both single and double broviak lines in her chest and to remove an ovary to preserve her fertility, immuno-suppression therapy transfusions, chemotherapy and an array of other tests, scans and medications to prepare for the transplant.

On November 28th, Miranda received her sister’s precious stem cells, marking her new “birthday” having been given a second chance at life. Miranda remained in the hospital for nearly 6 weeks being discharged just before Christmas. Miranda remains at home in quarantine while her new cells grow and her immune system rebounds and attends Mars Cyber Academy. She is monitored bi-weekly for rejection, infection, medication levels and various lab counts. While her journey is far from over, and there are many milestones ahead, Miranda is optimistic and looking forward to graduating high school in the spring and plans to start college at Pitt in the fall.

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