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RIP Jasmina Anema



Posted 04 DEC 2009: Jasmina meets President Obama

Jasmina Anema, brave six-year-old who captured New Yorkers' hearts, loses battle with leukemia

Jasmina Anema, the Manhattan girl whose brave battle against leukemia captivated the city and inspired thousands to become bone marrow donors, has died. She was just six years old.

Jasmina's year-long fight against an especially fatal form of the disease ended at 10:55 p.m. Tuesday night at NYU Langone Medical Center, her mother, Thea Anema, said.

"She was an incredible fighter to the end," said Jasmina's godmother, Mariana Verkerk.
"Her attitude was always incredibly positive. She fought her battle so hard, and unfortunately she didn't win it."

Thea Anema was too devastated to speak, but she sent a message through Jasmina's godmother.

"Thea wants everyone to know that Jasmina had a wonderful life...and she died peacefully," Verkerk said.

President Obama, whom Jasmina met in December, also extolled the resilient cancer victim's courage.

"Jasmina showed tremendous bravery in the face of adversity, and her ability to stay positive throughout her battle was an inspiration to me and to all those she touched," Obama added in a statement.

"As the parents of two young girls, our hearts particularly go out to Jasmina's devoted mother Thea. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and with all who knew and loved Jasmina."


Suffering from a fever and shortness of breath, Jasmina was admitted to the hospital Monday morning.

She was diagnosed with pneumonia in both of her lungs, and her condition deteriorated rapidly.

Before noon on Tuesday, doctors moved Jasmina into the ICU because her breathing had become so labored.

She only got worse.

"Jasmina's antibiotics are not working so her lungs are filling up with fluids," a friend wrote on Jasmina's blog in a message posted at 6:43 p.m. "Her situation right now is critical. The doctors are trying to get the situation under control but Thea will have to make a difficult decision if this does not work."

Jasmina passed away just a few hours later.

"Today, January 27th, at 10:55 p.m. Jasmina lost her fight against leukemia," Thea Anema wrote.

Jasmina, a cute-as-a-button kindergartner from Greenwich Village, lived the life of a typical child until Jan. 20 when a doctor informed her she was suffering from NK cell Leukemia.

Alerted by a series of stories in the Daily News, thousands of New Yorkers turned out for bone marrow donor drives.

A slew of celebrities, including singer Rihanna and NBA star Paul Pierce, also urged donors to come forward.

Hope seemed lost until early May, when a near-perfect donor match was finally found.

The resulting transplant was a success, but Jasmina's good fortune did not last.

A biopsy in September revealed that her cancer had returned. By that point, Jasmina was also suffering from graft versus host disease, a common complication in bone-marrow transplants in which the new cells attack the recipient's body.

In her final few months, Jasmina, her heath failing, had the experience of her dreams: She met President Obama in the Oval Office and spent 10 wondrous minutes with him.

That day, Jasmina's poise and courage left her mother stunned.

It was far from the first time.

On that terrible September day when she was told her cancer had returned, Jasmina looked into her mom's bloodshot eyes and tried to console her from her hospital bed.

"Mama, no reason to cry," Jasmina told her. "Just think of something beautiful."

rschapiro@nydailynews.com

With Michael McAuliff

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