Real Housewives star donates stem cells to mother with cancer
DALLAS - One of the stars of Bravo's Real Housewives of Dallas got a phone call she never expected.
Stephanie Hollman learned she was a perfect match to a complete stranger for a procedure that would save that mother's life. She thought of her own two young boys and knew what she had to do and said yes, knowing there's no guarantee the mother’s life would be saved or if she'd ever meet her.
Hollman got the surprise call two days before Easter. And within a month, she became a donor. It's given her a new purpose in life and has given another mother a chance at life.
“It was a New York number, so I thought Bravo is bugging me,” recalled the RHOD cast member.
But the call wasn’t Bravo. It was a donor center which matches donors to people with blood cancer. Hollman gave them a swab four years ago at a fun run.
“I remember swabbing my cheeks and giving it to them and not really thinking anything would come of it,” she said.
The chances of being a match to someone who is not family are less than one percent, but Hollman was a match to a mom with cancer. She was the mom’s only match and her only chance at survival.
“I mean, I have nothing to lose and she has everything to gain,” Hollman said.
For five days leading up to the procedure, Hollman got shots to increase her white blood cell count. They made her sluggish and sore, but she could still keep up with her sons, Chance and Cruz.
“I told them that there was a lady who needed mommy's help and that I was just going to go help somebody,” she told her kids.
Last week, Hollman flew to Oklahoma City for her peripheral stem cell donation. She described the procedure like giving blood, except for five hours a day. She managed to give 10 million white blood cells to a woman she may never meet.
“I don't know you, but I did pray for you the entire time I was there,” she said.
Hollman calls the mystery mom her ‘blood sister.’
“Helping somebody even live, even if it's five more years, I feel like that's a job well done at the end of the day,” she said. ‘And I think that's what everyone wants out of their life.”
Hollman’s husband, Travis, calls her a superhero.
“You're really saving someone's life,” he said. “It's a different type of gift. This is something big.”
“I feel like the risks are very minimal and the reward is so great,” she said.
Hollman says most donor registries need more swabs from men and people who are mixed race. She says it is easy and doesn’t cost anything.
Hollman donated through a program called DKMS, but there are several others out there. For more information on how to join the donor registry online or to find a local drive, click here.