*People magazine is reporting that the 29-year-old son of former heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield saved the life of an ailing 19-year-old woman by giving her his bone marrow.
Darian Craig was just 3 years old when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor that affects mostly infants. She was given less than a 15 percent chance of surviving.
Darian eventually beat the disease, but spent the next 14 years of her life in and out of emergency rooms battling Behcet’s syndrome, a rare disorder that causes blood vessels to become inflamed, and receiving radiation treatments, chemotherapy and undergoing a bone marrow transplant.
“I couldn’t really do much,” says Darian, 19, of Nashville. “I couldn’t go out. I had to always stay with my mom. It wasn’t a normal childhood.”
Just when she thought she was cancer free, she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a rare blood and bone marrow failure disorder, in September 2011.
But with the help of Delete Blood Cancer doctors found a match in donor Evander Holyfield Jr. And if it weren’t for his unlikely donation, Craig likely wouldn’t be here today.
“I was trying to impress a girl at the time, so I ended up attending this donor event, not even thinking I could save a life,” says Holyfield of attending a bone marrow drive in New York City in January 2011. “But when I got the swab, I got this feeling that I would be a match.”
Eleven months later, Darian received the critical bone marrow transplant. Holyfield and Darian met for the first time on May 1, at the Delete Blood Cancer’s seventh annual gala in New York City. (Watch their emotional meeting below.)
“It’s just amazing to me that I can live again,” a tearful Darian told People.com backstage at the event. “I have one more chance at living – to actually be able to do something.”