When three-year-old Skye Savren-McCormick walked down the aisle as a flower girl, everyone at the wedding knew it was a special moment. Skye had never met the bride, Hayden Ryals, but when Skye was a baby, Ryals had donated bone marrow to her.
And now the toddler, who had survived cancer, was at the wedding of the person who saved her life.
It's hard to imagine that a mere two years earlier doctors gave Skye only a 10% chance to live.
Stricken with childhood cancer, she needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.
A tough road ahead
Skye was almost one when she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia.
According to Cancer Research UK, this is "a very rare type of slowly developing (chronic) blood disorder that occurs in young children".
"Leukaemia means a cancer of the blood forming system. The blood forming system is the bone marrow – the soft inner part of your bones."
Symptoms can include:
- Being tired and lethargic
- Bruising easily
- Nosebleeds and bleeding gums
- Many infections
- Enlarged liver and spleen
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Skin rashes
- Small yellowish skin tumours
A stem cell (bone marrow) transplant is the only cure for the disease.
Making a difference
Ryals signed up to be a bone marrow donor in 2015, and in 2016 she was informed she was a match for a little girl and that the transplant could save her life. As personal details generally remain private during donations, Ryals would only later learn that Skye was the recipient.
According to CBS News, Ryals would often wonder how Skye was doing, and after a year she reached out to the child's mother, Talia. She didn't hesitate to ask if Skye would be the flower girl at her upcoming wedding.
"I walked up and just dropped to my knees, and all I could do was smile," Ryals told ABC News.
Talia described the moment as follows: "We were in the front, looking around, and she [Ryals] came in and immediately came over to Skye and dropped to her knees.
"Skye gave her a big hug. The whole night they were sitting together. It was so sweet. It was like they were in love."
"There wasn't a dry eye in the room," wedding photographer Jeannie Broadway told CNN. "You could even hear sobs from people."
Whilst Skye is too young to realise that Ryals saved her life, Talia says the two families will stay connected.
"I look forward to the years to come with Skye growing up and continuing this relationship."
Ryals stressed the importance of donation and encourages people to join a registry,
"She's everything to me," she said. "And this whole journey, I've never once seen it as me helping her, because I was honoured to do it, and it was a privilege for me to get to do it.
"In my eyes, she's the one that saved me."
Image credit: iStock