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The one hundred honoree: Giovanni’s Gladiators

Donor Story

The one hundred honoree: Giovanni’s Gladiators

Mass General Giving

Giovanni Guglielmo was six months old when he was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder. His parents were told he would die if a bone marrow match was not found. When his father, Michael Guglielmo, asked physicians what the chances were of finding a match, he was told one in 20,000. His response? “No problem. I’ll put 20,000 people in the registry.”

He launched a bone marrow registry movement, now called Giovanni’s Gladiators, that quickly grew from New England all the way to Italy. Thanks to Giovanni’s Gladiators, Italy held its first public bone marrow drive. The Pope even granted Giovanni an Apostolic Blessing that was delivered to him at Boston Children’s Hospital. Although there was no match for Giovanni in the international bone marrow registry, he did receive a cord blood match. Giovanni ultimately passed away at age five, but over the course of his short life, he inspired 70,000 people to join the international registry, producing more than 250 lifesaving matches for others suffering from blood cancer.

Nominator Kim Mahoney says, “If it wasn’t for Giovanni’s legacy, my grandson may not have found the much needed match he needs to live. We are lucky that a match was found so quickly and a transplant will happen in the near future. I thank Giovanni for this. He was a truly amazing little boy who brought so much good to this world.”