In 1993, 10 months after David Unrau signed as much as be a bone marrow donor by means of the Pink Cross, he acquired the decision: a teenage lady with leukemia was dying.
What David didn’t discover out till a lot later was that 16-year-old Crystal Daybreak Navratil, was residing in Inuvik, Northwest Territories and they might not solely ultimately meet however develop a lifelong friendship, one which modified his life and saved hers.
“I used to be cautiously optimistic that I’d discover out who she was,” mentioned the Waterloo man. “It’s an nameless program.”
However Crystal did wish to meet her donor and their friendship would change David in innumerable methods, make him kinder and permit him to find the thrill of journey, similar to his younger good friend.
“I’ve pushed the envelope: I’m not going to sit down at house,” mentioned David.
Crystal made headlines in 1995 after being flown practically 6,500 kilometres from Inuvik along with her mom, Beverly Navratil, to attend a ceremony held by the Pink Cross Society’s Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry. At that occasion, Crystal would meet the Waterloo man who gave her an opportunity at life.
Crystal had been recognized with acute myelogenous leukemia on Oct. 31, 1992, when she was 16. Chemotherapy didn’t cease the most cancers and her probabilities of survival have been 20 per cent. A bone-marrow transplant was her solely hope.
On the time, her mom advised a reporter that the chances of David’s marrow being an appropriate match have been 750,000 to at least one, due to Crystal’s uncommon blood kind, AB-negative. David was stunned that his A-positive blood was suitable and that Crystal’s blood cells would begin producing A-positive following the transplant. She not solely had a brand new lease on life, however she additionally had a brand new blood kind.
Crystal advised a Report reporter, “It’s like a present from God. I’ve mentioned thanks, and it isn’t sufficient.”
Donors assembly recipients is uncommon however Crystal was decided.
“I knew I needed to see this particular person, and speak to this particular person, and ask why they did this,” Crystal mentioned on the time.
Whereas in Ontario, Crystal stayed with David and his household and he confirmed her the area’s vacationer highlights, their bond rising. There could be many visits forwards and backwards through the years.
Crystal was born on Feb. 26, 1976, in Edmonton. Beverly, a single mom, moved with Crystal to Inuvik when she was seven and the lady’s coronary heart remained firmly cemented within the territories. She attended highschool in Inuvik however accomplished her ultimate yr in Calgary following the transplant which had taken place in that metropolis.
After graduating from Concordia College School of Alberta in 2000 with a level in sociology, Crystal taught English in South Korea. After a yr, she returned to Inuvik the place she labored as a correctional officer from 2001 to 2008, then as a primary support teacher, a well being honest co-ordinator and youth employee. In 2017, she joined the Northwest Territories’ authorities because the group well being consultant.
Her work was diverse and required intensive journey. Crystal was all the time trying to discover new and higher methods of doing issues, data she would carry again to her group the place she was answerable for organising diabetes training, oral well being, smoking and suicide prevention, addressing household violence, elder abuse and addictions. She additionally taught first support, ran elder health applications, taught a babysitting course and lead a Lady Guides group.
Crystal was identified for her ardour and advocacy for the psychological, religious and bodily well being of everybody in Inuvik, incomes her the honoured identify Piipinguaq, an Inuvialuktun phrase for doll. To her pals, she was often known as “essentially the most stunning butterfly.”
Although nonindigenous, Crystal held the respect of everybody in Inuvik as a consequence of her serving to nature and eagerness to assist all native initiatives.
She was extremely creative, identified for her fashionable outfits and the earrings she made and offered on the Arctic markets. Crystal was additionally a singer and adept at card methods.
Although she by no means married nor had youngsters, Crystal leaves behind a outstanding legacy.
“I by no means anticipated that I must say goodbye to her,” mentioned David, admitting he apprehensive most cancers would return. He couldn’t predict that her loss of life would come on the again of a snowmobile.
Severely injured in a crash, Crystal was airlifted to a hospital in Yellowknife and died April 21, 2021.
Although the loss is painful, David is grateful that for practically three many years, he had been “a part of somebody’s miracle.”