Three years ago, Hayden Hatfield Ryals decided to become a bone marrow donor after walking by a “Be The Match” table en route to class at Auburn University. A year later, she actually became the match when a baby girl from California–diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia–needed a bone marrow transplant. The little girl named Skye Savren-McCormick ultimately survived cancer all due to Ryals’ anonymous donation.
Now, at three years old, Savren-McCormick got to meet Ryals, the woman who miraculously saved her life, while serving in her wedding as the flower girl. The bride came up with the idea to include Savren-McCormick in her Alabama nuptials after the two started communicating a year after the transplant took place.
“I wanted [her family] to know how honored I would be, and that they’re that special to my heart,” the bride told Parents. “I’ve felt a special connection with her since the transplant date.”
Initially, Savren-McCormick was unable to make the nuptials due to a weakened immune system, but doctors later cleared the little one to fly from California to Alabama to partake in the special occasion. The bride and her flower girl first met on the Friday before the wedding, right before the rehearsal.
Ryals had arranged a cute outfit for the three year old. The little one came bearing gifts, too, including a gold locket that read, “This heart beats with yours.”
“I fully consider them my family and would do anything in the world for them,” the bride told Parents. “It would take an eternity to fully explain how precious they are to me and how much I love them.”
When the three-year-old made her way down the aisle on the actual wedding day, the entire guest list was in tears. Photographer Jeannie Broadway of Mark Broadway Photography documented the little one smiling as she threw petals and made her way down in bright blue sneakers.
“I always tell people they’re smitten for one another,” Skye’s mother, Talia Savren-McCormick, told Good Morning America of Ryals and her daughter. “Skye calls her ‘Hay Hay.’”
Ryals is using the beautiful wedding moment to share the importance of bone marrow transplants. “For me, this experience was such an incredible journey,” she concluded to Parents. “It changed my life completely. When you receive that phone call and learn that you are a match for a human being in need, and that you are their current hope, everything else is blocked out. And you become determined to do what is necessary to give this person and their family a fighting chance.”
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