Skye Savren-McCormick wasn’t old enough to understand what was going on. Before she even celebrated her first birthday, she was fighting for her life.
Skye was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia in March 2016, and received her first bone marrow transplant that year. Nobody couldn’t have known it was the beginning of a special relationship.
Hayden Hatfield Ryals registered to be a donor through Be the Match.
Ryals was only 22 years old when she became a donor through the service. The now 26-year-old Auburn University graduate had no way of knowing where it would lead.
While Skye’s parents fretted over the health of their baby girl, Ryals unwittingly became her saving grace. Without Ryals’ bone marrow, Skye’s parents don’t think she would have been able to survive.
“She was that sick,” Skye’s mom, Talia Savren-McCormick, told ABC News. “I feel like Hayden is such a huge success in why Skye was able to beat leukemia.”
Not only was Ryals the source of her first bone marrow transplant, but she also provided an important infusion of cells after Skye developed complications following the transplant. Against the slim odds, Skye pulled through, and her last treatment was in April 2017.
“She’s a fighter, and she is full of spunk, and she just has the best attitude, and I think everybody could learn something from this 3-year-old,” Ryals told CNN.
Ryals reached out to the Savern-McCormick family through the Be the Match service.
A few months after Skye’s transplant, Ryals got in touch with the family. They started communicating regularly through text messages and Facebook, and Ryals sent Skye a present for her third birthday.
A friendship formed between the families, and Ryals invited the California family to her Alabama wedding. When the birthday present arrived, it included a special invitation for Skye.
“I always tell people they’re smitten for one another,” Talia said. “Skye calls her ‘Hay Hay.'”
The bride-to-be wanted Skye to be the flower girl at her wedding. The family was honored, and after receiving clearance from Skye’s doctor, happily agreed.
Skye’s appearance at the wedding drew tears from those in attendance.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” wedding photographer Jeannie Broadway told CNN. “You could even hear sobs from people.”
As Ryals said her vows and enjoyed her big day, Skye was never too far behind. The two spent the majority of the day in each other’s company, something that Skye’s parents found very touching.
Ryals said that becoming a donor helped give her a sense of purpose, and hopes her relationship with Skye continues to grow. She stressed how easy it was to become a bone marrow donor, and how much of a difference it can make.