West Rogers Park woman meets baby whose life she saved through stem cell donation

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Gift of Life stem cell donor meets baby whose life she saved
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What began as a simple mouth swab at a West Roger Park charity event lead to a local woman saving a baby's life through a stem cell donation.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Brooke Dordek says she was an ordinary mother attending a charity event in her West Rogers Park neighborhood when she passed a certain booth.

"They said, 'do you want to have your cheek swabbed for Gift of Life to see if one day you'll be match?' I said, 'sure why not,'" said Dordek.

Little did this mother of two know that a short time later she would be contacted and told her blood stem cells were a perfect match for a baby in a different state.

If she decided to be a donor, that would mean going to D.C. for the procedure and leaving her own small children behind. One of whom was still an infant.

"But I kept thinking about this little baby who was sick in the hospital and needed me, so I was torn," Dordek said, who is also a special needs teacher. "I didn't want to leave my family but I needed to save this child whose family was suffering."

She knew nothing about the sick child except that he had an immune system disorder and wouldn't make it without her.

"I had a friend whose son was going through something similar, and I just kept thinking about her and how she's suffering, and how he was suffering. They didn't find a cure and he did die," she said.

Remembering that moment helped make her decision easier. She left for the procedure and then waited to hear any results.

"A year later they said, 'he's alive,'" Dordek said.

This week Dordek finally got a chance to meet the toddler whose life she literally saved.

That little boy is 3-year-old Sabastian from Inglewood, California.

His parents, Juan and Nancy, were almost speechless with gratitude when they met Dordek at a gala in Beverly Hills.

"I never expected anything in return. I just saw a need and was blessed to have the ability to fill that need for this child," Dordek said. "If I was in this same situation. God forbid, and something like this would happen to me. I would hope that if somebody had the cure for my children, that they would do it for me."

Since 1991, Gift of Life Marrow Registry has made nearly 17,000 matches just like Sabastian and Dordek.