Amy Gaynor was a tenth grade honor student at Cleveland Heights High School as well as a member of the girls’ varsity tennis team and swim cadets. She belonged to an Amateur Athletic Union swim team and volunteered to teach swimming to children with disabilities. Amy was also a fine pianist. But in 1977, at age 15, Amy was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. She lost her battle with the disease just three months later.
Amy’s experience inspired her parents, Donald and Lois Gaynor and their family to become champions for patients and families living with this bone marrow failure disease. “She led a zestful life and brought joy to all she met,” said her mother. “My spirits are lifted by all she packed into her 15 years, as well as her optimism and bravery.”
With that determination, they established the Amy Gaynor Hematology Research Fund at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Over the years, Amy’s classmates and others have held fundraisers to benefit the Fund.
In addition, Lois has been an active volunteer at bone marrow drives and blood donor registries for more than 30 years. “Amy’s only hope was a bone marrow transplant. No one in the family was a match and there were no bone marrow banks or foundations at that time,” she said.
Now, Lois and her family have established the Amy Gaynor Research Fund with the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation. The grant will be awarded to a researcher through the AA&MDSIF Research Grant Program to advance the understanding and treatment of aplastic anemia. For more than 25 years, AA&MDSIF has invited researchers to test new ideas and to explore other research leads through this program. “It has been our family’s fervent hope that research will find a cure for aplastic anemia so that no other parent will lose a child to this dreadful disease,” said Lois.
AAMDSIF has awarded $4 million dollars in research grants to 60 grantees, funding 68 research projects, thanks to the generosity of individuals and families like the Gaynors. Their commitment helps AA&MDSIF provide answers, support, and hope for patients and families around the world.