My blood brother – the Native American who saved my life (Croatia/USA)


Introduction by Ankica

This is my life experience, in which two stories run parallel. One story about the transplant, and the other about the search for my biological family.


When I was reading Ana Rucavina’s letter, “I want life”, published in 2006, I did not even imagine I would be needing a bone marrow transplant myself. Anna sadly died and her mother established a foundation in Croatia that would contribute to the global donor register in which eventually my matching donor was found. I was reading the letter and crying, believing that Ana would get better and not knowing that the same was in store for me. When I found out I was going to need a transplant, an idea came to my mind that I could keep a diary and write down everything that was happening to me. I thought it would be good to find a publisher so people would be able to read my diary and realise that in the times of hardship, when you have reached the end of the tunnel, all we are left with is faith. Faith, hope and a ray of light which sheds light on the path you have to cross.


In my life, faith and hope are constantly present. Love and support from your dearest is very important. Love gives you the strength to keep going forward. Even though friendly hospital staff is important, support and love of your family and friends is imperative, so you are aware you are not alone and you have something to hope and fight for. I had support from my husband, children, friends, hospital staff, the crew of “Mission Together”, my father’s relatives and people from the Croatian foundation, especially Marija Rukavina. Surrounded by so much care and love, I fought, for the sake of myself and for them.


Preface by prof. dr. Mirando Mrsić

The human dimension of giving has been clearly demonstrated through this book. How can a person interpret getting the news that, even though no one in your family is suitable to be your stem cells donor, you find out that someone far away is your perfect match and that person is your hope of recovery?


Excerpt from the book

I didn’t wait for the answer for too long and on 19th of April 2013 an envelope arrived with my donor’s information to my home address. I was so happy and excited that I screamed from the top of my lungs. I immediately sat in front of the computer and wrote a short e-mail of gratitude and a few sentences about myself. Soon I received an answer thanking me that I contacted him. He wrote his name is Gaylon, from Oklahoma, a native, Comanche Indian, an art painter, 42 years old, happily married with three children.


Gaylon wrote that he entered the registry in Oklahoma City more than 17 years ago, while his wife was carrying their first child. He had been registered for nearly 15 years when he was asked to donate. They told him there was a young person in a hospital in Europe whose life literally depends on his blood-forming stem cells and that her first donor, who was also an identical match, had to be removed from the registry due to illness. He says he did not hesitate for a second, but immediately agreed to save me. When the plane with his blood took off, he and his wife were waving and crying, and he said: “Please, God, save that person. I gave a part of myself, and now it’s your turn.


You can read Ankica’s book by clicking on this link: My blood brother–the Native American who saved my life.