GoJet Flight Attendant, Jeannie Andersen, was visiting her daughter’s school when she learned that the bone marrow she’d decided to donate was indeed going to save a young girls life.
After flying mainline and doing charter flights for several years, Jeannie was able to connect with many families from the Make-A-Wish Foundation where she served children who were terminally ill inflight. While engaging with each family, Jeannie was made aware of the dire need for bone marrow donors with varying blood types.
“Many of us come home to healthy children each day, but at work, I would see these beautiful children with Sickle Cell, Leukemia, and other diseases. Some children were waiting for bone marrow donors and I decided that I had to do more!” Jeannie said.
Jeannie contacted Laurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago and went to be tested to determine if she could become a bone marrow donor.
“My doctor was a little bit concerned because I’m small in stature, but I knew that this was something bigger than myself, and something that I needed to do,” Jeannie said.
One month later Jeannie learned that she was a match and started the procedure for a five-year-old little girl named Madeline. While the testing was a simple swab of the cheek, the marrow extraction process was a bit more complicated. Jeannie went through a great deal of recovery, but kept her spirits high and her focus on the young girl in need.
“Madeline was in a very critical stage, so it was this or nothing else because all of her options had been exhausted,” Jeannie said. “After the procedure, I really never knew how it had gone for her—I just prayed and hoped. But after several weeks, my caseworker called and said that the little girl was doing very well and the mother had requested to meet me!”
Jeannie scheduled a time to meet with Madeline’s family at the hospital. When Jeannie walked into the room she was speechless! Madeline’s mother shared that Madeline had drawn a picture of a woman who looked just like Jeannie with red hair and had named it her big star. Each night the family would wish on a star for Madeline to become well.
“It was such a huge opportunity to meet Madeline, and that day was so emotional for me,” Jeannie said. “Her mother asked me how she could thank me for saving her daughter’s life. I said that I only did what I would hope someone else would do if this was my child. I also replied that I wanted Madeline to enjoy every sunset, embrace life and to have fantastic adventures. That, in itself, would be thanks enough.”
Madeline’s health continues to improve, and she is now in full remission. She went on to Kindergarten and also plays softball. Madeline’s mother decided to purchase a star in honor of Jeannie’s contribution and presented Jeannie with a plaque sharing the location and name of the star in the sky.
“I like to think of all of us making wishes and giving back with nothing expected in return,” Jeannie said.