When Britta Hess registered as a bone marrow donor in 2014, she did it to help a friend of a friend.

“A girl at my high school knew someone who needed a transplant, and she asked many of us if we would sign up as potential donors,” said Hess, a sophomore at PSU. “I registered as a donor, but I honestly didn’t think anything would ever come of it.

The chances of being a match for someone in need is like 1 in 10,000.”

Then came the call.

“I got the call in December 2014 telling me that I was a match, but it wasn’t for the person my friend knew,” Hess said. “There was a little girl in Alabama who had aplastic anemia, and she needed a transplant.”

According to the organization Delete Blood Cancer DKMS, Hess’s bone marrow donation helped saved the life of the little girl, Jayden. At the time of the transplant, Jayden was 6 years old. In May, in a moment Hess said she’ll never forget, she met Jayden for the first time at the DKMS Gala in New York City.

“It’s indescribable, really,” Hess said. “Jayden is so adorable, and she was so excited to meet me. That really touched my heart in a big way. Looking at her and knowing that a small part of me helped save her life just put a whole new perspective on what it means to be alive.”

James Kirkland, communications associate for Delete Blood Cancer DKMS, said he hopes Hess’s story will inspire other young men and women to register as donors.

“The most commonly requested donors are between the ages of 18 and 35, making college age registrants some of the best donors available,” he said. “Britta’s story is a perfect example of the potential impact of having generous and engaged young adults join the registry.”

During the gala, the Delete Blood Cancer organization showed a video that told Jayden’s story. In the video, Jayden’s mother April thanked Hess for her life-saving donation.

“This young lady is an angel,” April said of Hess. “For her to give a part of herself to someone, to give them a chance to have their life back … for someone to do that for my little girl … she gave her back to me.

“It’s the best gift you can give anybody,” she said.

Hess is now a strong, vocal advocate for registering as a donor.

“It’s such a simple thing to do,” she said, “and it can literally save a life.” •