Natasha Collins was a warm, compassionate, summa cum laude graduate of Cornell University who never met a person she would not call a friend. She traveled the world having studied in Ireland and Spain while in college and teaching at Cornell Weil Medical School in Qatar after graduating in 2004. Natasha enjoyed her time in the Middle East and fell in love with the kindness of the people and the richness of their culture. She, unfortunately, developed leukemia during her time there.

Her family soon learned three things:
  • She would need a bone marrow transplant to survive

  • Her survival would be directly related to her ability to find a "perfectly matched" bone marrow donor in the NMDP registry

  • That as a person of mixed heritage, her chance of finding a perfectly matched donor was near zero

Become My Hero was created by her father, a trained cancer researcher, to find Natasha a donor. The family registered thousands of potential bone marrow donors, but were unable to find a single donor who even partially matched her. All seemed lost until her doctors decided to go with a newer procedure using two, partially matched, frozen cord blood units.

Natasha’s cord blood transplant and recovery offered few complications, and she walked out of the hospital in less than a week. More importantly, it gave her an opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor as a student at Yale School of Medicine.

She, however, suffered a relapse in her second semester. Yale did not perform cord blood transplants, and they instead transplanted her with stem cells from a partially matched bone marrow donor not of her same race or ethnic group. Natasha died of "graft versus host disease" one month later.

Before Natasha died she asked her father to help a Yale undergraduate student who could not find a donor. Become My Hero was refocused as a cord blood advocacy, recruitment and collection tool and used to educate tens of millions of people about the effectiveness of cord blood transplants and find cord blood donors.

Become My Hero is now a service of the National Mixed Heritage Cord Blood Foundation, a not-for-profit health advocacy and applied research organization (click here to learn more).

(P) 203.200.0771 / (E) [email protected]