True Life: Saving Jasmina


Mar. 19 2009, Published 6:04 a.m. ET

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On her 6th birthday March 4, Jasmina Anema looks every inch the fairy-tale princess, all decked out in her pink tulle tutu, waving a silver wand. With a luminous smile, she savors a serenade from a special visitor — Grammy-winner Kelly Rowland, who croons a sweet rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

Jasmina’s adoptive mom, Theodora, is beaming. Streamers festoon the room and there are stuffed animals everywhere. You could almost forget you’re at NYU Cancer Institute, where Jasmina is undergoing chemotherapy for a rare form of leukemia — and that unless she finds a donor for a bone-marrow transplant, this adorably ebullient little New Yorker has mere months to live.

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There is no greater anguish for a parent than a dying child. But on this day, at least, Theodora feels gratitude.

“I want to thank Kelly for being so graceful and sweet,” she tells OK! of the singer, 28. “It makes Jasmina feel very special,” her mother says, “and anything that makes her smile is great medicine.”

“I love being with Jasmina,” Kelly tells OK!. “When I first got here she was very shy and I wanted to give her time to warm up to me. I’m happy her face lit up — we’ve been having fun. I’m being a kid again.”

But Kelly gave her young friend something more than a morale boost by swabbing the inside of her own mouth and submitting a DNA sample to see if she might qualify as a bone marrow donor. “I just want that little girl to live life, to experience all it has to offer.”

The visit from the Destiny’s Child alumna helped to promote a March 7 donor  drive in Manhattan. Kelly is just one of a growing number of celebrities rallying to the feisty youngster’s cause (To find out how you can help, go to

Kelly Rowland
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It all started with Rihanna. “Deeply moved” last month when she saw a video put together by Jasmina’s pal Isabelle and her mom, Karen, the Barbadian super-star drummed up some 3,000 donor applicants.

“I was more than ecstatic,” Theodora tells OK!. “Rihanna is such a sweet and compassionate woman. It’s amazing she cares so much about someone she doesn’t even know.”

For more on Jasmina, Rihanna and Kelly, pick up the latest issue of OK!, on sale everywhere today!


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