Toddler cancer survivor serves as flower girl to bone marrow donor

Henrietta Strickland
July 6, 2018

As soon as Hayden Hatfield started walking down the aisle, her eyes locked on her flower girl.

And the wedding guests could barely hold it together.

Skye is now in remission after battling cancer for most of her short life.

When Hayden Hatfield Ryals got a call that a baby girl with cancer was a match for her bone marrow, Ryals knew she had to save her.

While the Savren-McCormicks are based in California, it was a no brainer when they received the invite for Skye to help celebrate Hayden's wedding by serving as a flower girl.

It was the devastating cancer diagnosis that saw toddler Skye Savren-McCormick given just a 10 percent chance to live and in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant.

She needed a bone-marrow transplant.

Despite the complications and the heartache, Skye's parents Talia and Todd have always credited Hayden with getting their daughter past that first hard hurdle.

Savren-McCormick said that because there are regulations on donations, they returned to the Be the Match registry and found another donor - this time, using peripheral blood stem cells instead of the bone marrow.

"It changed everything", she told the Dothan Eagle.

The bride thought about their special connection - years earlier, she had donated her bone marrow to help the toddler fight a rare form of childhood leukemia. This, she said, gave her objective again. Ryals said that when she walked in, she was overwhelmed with emotion. "It became my number-one priority from that point on".

Donating bone marrow is anonymous, so Ryals and Skye didn't meet. But from that surgery in 2016, the two were linked. "It was unbelievable to me how many heartstrings she tugged on all at once", she said.

"Talia asked [Skye] who I was and so sweetly and gently, she said, 'Hay Hay, '" Ryals said.

Shortly after Skye's first transplant from Ryals, the donor sent the family an anonymous letter through Be the Match, the nonprofit organization through which she donated her bone marrow.

But Ryals said she didn't save the toddler.

Finally, Ryals and the Savren-McCormick family both reached out to Be the Match, saying they'd like to get in touch with each other.

"They are going to be part of our lives forever", Talia told ABC's World News Tonight.

For Skye's birthday, Ryals sent her a present with an invitation to serve as flower girl in her wedding.

"We were really taken aback by how sweet it was", Savren-McCormick said. "It has always been the other way around", she said.

But with her doctor's approval, Skye arrived in time for the rehearsal dinner, where she met the Ryals in person for the first time.

Skye carefully dropping petals during the ceremony. She walked over to Skye, she said, and fell to her knees. "The whole night they were sitting together".

In a blog posted to their wedding photographer's website, Ryals said she wasn't sure if Skye would be able to make it due to her fragile health.

"I look forward to the years to come with Skye growing up and continuing this relationship with Hayden, and watching Hayden grow up, too", Savren-McCormick said.

"She saved our daughter's life". "You don't have to be a superhero". Ryals said that she feels like she has known Skye and her parents her entire life.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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