Sharnell's legacy lives on
Isle woman’s marrow saves Cincinnati girl
Maya Chamberlin & Rose-Anne Schucht
resident Rose Anne Schucht never imagined that a simple act
done to help a friend in need of a bone marrow transplant
would end up saving a young girl’s life.
a former Ihilani Resort and Spa employee, joined the
national Be the Match bone marrow registry after her friend
Sharnell Onaga, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007.
Nearly 750 Ihilani employees swabbed their cheeks to help
Onaga, who needed a lifesaving transplant.
chance of finding a match ranges from 1-in-540 to 1-in-10.5
million, depending how common the patient’s tissue type is,
according to the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
Two years before and
thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, Sam and Mina
Chamberlin welcomed their first child into the world.
"Everything was perfect," Mina Chamberlin said of her
daughter, Maya. "I would never have known what was
Maya Chamberlin, 11, of
Cincinnati, left, was reunited with her bone marrow
transplant donor, Rose-Anne Schucht, a staff assistant for
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 1357,
during a trip to Oahu in July.
(George F. Lee| firstname.lastname@example.org)
As Maya grew,
she was in the 95th percentile for her height and weight and
appeared to be precocious. By 18 months she knew her numbers 1
through 20, and by age 3 was reading chapter books, her mother said.
kept detailed records of her daughter’s health, including details on
how long and often baby Maya breastfed, her changes in weight. She
had even kept an Excel spreadsheet documenting the daily tally of
wet diapers. “I don’t know if it was maternal instincts or what, but
I took obsessive notes, and I think when Maya got sick it was
instrumental in helping the doctors put things together,” she said.
Maya suffered high fevers every few weeks. Her blood work revealed
that during those fevers her blood count was low, causing her to
become anemic, and her platelets — the cells involved with blood
clotting — would drop.
happening over and over again, and I knew something was wrong,”
Chamberlin said. “(Pediatricians) said this is something she will
probably grow out of as she gets older, but the fevers continued.”
In 2009, after a
series of blood tests and a review of Chamberlin’s notes by an
infectious-disease doctor, the 4-year-old girl was diagnosed with
the life-threatening immunodeficiency disease known as HLH (hemophagocytic
“It was on
09/09/09 — I’ll never forget the date,” Chamberlin said. “They
started her on steroids right away.”
have overactive white blood cells that accumulate on and attack
healthy lymph tissue — the spleen, liver and lymph nodes —
potentially damaging vital organs. The only effective treatment is a
bone marrow transplant.
health became stable enough for her to travel, the Chamberlins moved
to Cincinnati from L.A. to be near Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
and Medical Center, a top hospital for HLH treatment. Chamberlain
quit her job, and her husband took a job based in Chicago.
after arriving in Cincinnati, Maya found a marrow transplant match
and started chemotherapy in preparation for the transplant. After
receiving the new marrow, Maya’s cell count rose above 90 percent,
but her family’s elation lasted only a few days.
“We were just
fighting for her life,” Sam Chamberlin said. “We were leaning on our
faith, praying and praying, and then — it doesn’t work.”
said their hopes were shattered as they watched Maya’s cell count
drop from 90 percent to 70, to 25 and, two weeks after the
At that time
Maya kept a stack of her then-favorite book series, the Berenstain
Bears, by her bedside and every day drew a new picture of her
“One day I
walked into Maya’s hospital room, and she was reading her books and
doing her art. She looked up at me and said, ‘I’m gonna make it,’”
Sam Chamberlin said, holding back tears. “It was right then I knew
Maya’s not going away.”
Maya soon found
another match in Schucht. The family was required to wait a year
before the next transplant, and the girl underwent intensified
“When they told
me the recipient was a 4-year-old child — I have a son the same age
— so as a mom it just broke my heart,” she said.
when she received the call, her mind flooded with memories of Onaga,
who died in 2007, leaving behind a husband and three daughters.
Onaga had found a marrow donation match, but when the donor was
contacted, he opted not to participate.
marrow extractions are done through a blood draw, Schucht was put
under anesthesia for marrow extraction from her pelvic bone. “It’s a
bad myth that people think it’s painful,” she said. “They put you
under the whole time, and I went home the next day.”
transplant was a success, and Maya, still a voracious reader, is now
a healthy 11-year-old playing soccer, basketball and the drums
starting sixth grade.
“The one and
only reason why Maya survived all this was because of RoseAnne,”
Mina Chamberlin said. “If she wasn’t on the registry, I don’t know
what the outcome would have been.”
The family first
met Schucht a year after Maya’s successful transplant. And last
month, while on Oahu for vacation, the Chamberlains met with Schucht
again, expressing eagerness to share Maya’s story and to let others
know that a cheek swab is all it takes to register and possibly save
“A person who
needs a transplant is facing either receiving a transplant or
dying,” Sam Chamberlin said. “When someone does a marrow transplant,
they’re involved with saving someone’s life.”
(B1 Local Money)
Honolulu Star Advertiser, August 20, 2016
my Amazing Mom
... you Deserve
to have the spotlight Shine on you
Time after time, Mom, you are the one who
your pride in me, but today it's my turn to talk
of pride and place the spotlight on you — for
life you've lived and the example you've been to
No matter the situations life has dealt, you've
them with honor and grace. You are a woman of
countless abilities. I've looked up to you all
growing up, I assumed you could do most
The pride I have in you goes beyond all the
you have done. I'm proud of the person you've
always been - kind, caring, dependable, and
So I am the one who is bragging today because
I have a mom who makes me so proud!
WE LOVE AND MISS YOU MAMA,
WITH ALL OUR LOVE
KAILA, RACHEL, & SARAH
When I look at you Mother,
I see Love and so much more
When I look at you ,I see my life through
your eyes. I see the strength you always offer me, the comfort you
continuously show me the support you provide me, and the magnitude
of the love that you unselfishly share.
I see the tears you shed when I cry, the
laughter you share when I laugh, the Hope you have for me and the
when I feel disillusioned, and the Faith you have in me when I face
I see the many sacrifices you have made and
continue to make for me, the inspiration you are to me when I need
direction, the devotion you show to me as a parent, and the
encouragement you give to me when I need a friend.
When I look at you, Mother and see my life
through your eyes, I feel Very loved, fortunate, and very blessed.
Thank you for being all that you are to me, for being the best, And
for being more than a Mother can be.....we love you with all our
heart and soul.
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY
GOD BLESS YOU
I Love You
To Our Very Special Mommy
It's always fun when it's just us
girls, 'cause it's the best time ever with a special Mom like you!
That's why we love you and the neat things we do whenever we're
We can see us someday doing neat
things again! Happy Mother's Day.... our Precious Mommy. We
love you and miss you very much!
Your treasures.... Kaila, Rachel &
P.S. With all our love we always give
thanks to God for you! Mom, you have been such a blessing to us...
and on Mother's Day we want you to know how much we love you for
welcoming Christ into our home and how deeply we thank him for giving us
such a wonderful, caring, and loving Mother like you.
My Dear Daughter Sharnell ~
My Pillar of the world is HOPE...
To you Sharnell, MY CHERISHED CHILD,
you're never forgotten. You're always in my thoughts. You're precious
and so loved. Your sweet and gentle ways; I'll cherish forever
with everlasting LOVE.
In honor of you, my precious Child, you
will never be forgotten. As beautiful as your heart is you are
unforgettable, and will always be cherished in my HEART & SOUL...
The Children are doing great, and are so
very smart in their own unique way. Thank you for the 3 jewels you
Happy Mother's Day. May God bless you
I love and miss you a whole lot!