Gia Danninger is a fighter. At 5 years old, she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare disease that occurs when the body stops producing enough new blood cells. Doctors told her family that her best hope of survival was a bone marrow transplant. To prepare her body, she received numerous blood transfusions and three weeks later, received a lifesaving transplant from a marrow donor in Germany.
Now 11 years old and in fifth grade, Gia continues to do well. She is an avid competitive dancer, loves school and is fiercely fond of cats. “She’s still fearless; that’s how Gia is. She speaks her mind,” says her mom, Jenna. “She’s thriving; she continues to grow, she’s happy, she’s content. She’s been given a second chance at life, so you have to make the most of it. She’s just a good human being.”
During the summer of 2023, the Danninger family traveled to Germany to meet Gia’s donor. “It was super emotional; we finally put that piece of the puzzle in,” Jenna says. “Meeting him was surreal; we’re adults, so we understand it. Gia knows the things she went through, but she was young. We always told her that he’s the guy who kept her alive.”
These days, Jenna is grateful for her family’s health and for the blood donors and marrow donor who kept Gia alive. “Blood donations can totally change someone’s world,” she says. “We’re thankful every day.”
Many patients with life-threatening illnesses rely on bone marrow transplants.
The Be The Match marrow donor registry is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program and has been helping patients receive life-saving bone marrow transplants for nearly 30 years. Bone marrow transplants can help patients suffering from a variety of illnesses, including leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease.
Learn more about marrow donation and join the Be The Match registry.