On April 28, 1998, Aaron Andrew Atwater became a hero to his brother, Craig, by donating his life saving bone marrow to him. Their unique and inspirational story lives on, and it is our hope that we can lead an "army" of people to donate their Bone Marrow through Be the Match to come to the aid of others facing similar challenges.
Aaron was born in 1978, during a difficult birth, leaving him with cerebral palsy in the severe range, as well as seizures, life long respiratory problems, unable to speak and walk or use his hands. Doctors predicted he would not survive 5 yrs. Craig and his brother Chad were toddlers at the time, but immediately grew very close to their youngest brother. Craig, being the oldest, would learn to feed him and help care for him, always near his side.
In 1998, when Craig was 22, he was suddenly ill and diagnosed with severe Aplastic Anemia. This is a rare blood disorder which causes the immune system to wipe out all of the necessary blood cells to sustain life. He was rushed to Strong Hospital in Rochester NY, where both of his siblings were tested for compatibility, and a search was done on the National Donor Registry. A miracle occurred and we received the news that Aaron, was in fact, the perfect 6/6 match to his brother. Many considerations had to be made prior to allowing him to be the donor, given his many medical conditions, so the search for an unrelated donor continued until it was deemed that Aaron could proceed.
Craig had many set backs during the time waiting for the transplant. Numerous infections from having no blood counts, reactions to medications and ending up in ICU with sepsis and heart failure. Miraculously, he recovered from all of it, but still had the grueling task of surviving the transplant and the pre conditioning chemotherapy and radiation before the transplant.
On April 28, 1998, Aaron gave his bone marrow to his loving brother. His bone marrow was extracted and he woke up smiling and seemingly pain free. Fourteen days later, Craig's counts began to rise and soared each day from there. He has had no effects from the transplant. His blood counts remain normal, 19 years later. He resides in Baldwinsville, NY, with his wife Keri and three.. YES three... children. Maddie, Max and Jake. Craig's life was able to flourish because of this life saving gift.
Aaron passed away on December 10, 2016, leaving a huge void in our hearts. We would like to continue to honor his wide smile, and spectacular life by asking each of you to consider Bone Marrow Donation and participating in our bone marrow drive. We are thankful for our gift of Aaron and invite you to be a part of his everlasting army of heroes.