An area seventh-grade girl whose lifelong battle with an immune disorder inspired a world-record-breaking regional Marrow-Thon last spring has died.
Athens Academy Headmaster Bob Chambers told parents the news about Kajal Patel's death in an email on Monday:
It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of Kajal Patel, Class of 2018. We extend to her parents, Dinesh and Tina, her brother, Anshul, her extended family, and her classmates and teachers at Athens Academy our sincere sympathy. A quiet, thoughtful girl, Kajal was devoted to her family and showed her strength by never complaining, despite living with pain during her long illness. While fighting her illness, she was the inspiration for a bone marrowthon that is providing life-saving marrow to others. She is a hero to many, and her legacy of service to others will live on. The memories of Kajal, the little girl with the big smile, will remain with us as we mourn the loss of her life. There will be a memorial service for Kajal. We will share that information with you as it becomes available.
Sincerely, J. Robert Chambers, Jr. Headmaster
More than 4,000 individuals registered as possible bone marrow donors with Be The Match during a seven-day period in 2012. The Marrow-Thon yielded multiple matches for Kajal, but she waited for her health to improve before undergoing the procedure last month.
Tuesday morning, a message about Kajal's passing was posted on the Facebook Page "Be a Hero for Kajal," which was started to keep friends and family informed about the bone marrow drive and provide updates about Kajal's health.
Kajal fought a tough fight and won all our hearts in the process as she worked to get well. Yesterday she left for heaven where she will have much deserved rest and peace.
Our love goes with her and her love stays with us forever.
Love and prayers to all the Patel family during this difficult time.
"Because of Kajal, I am a registered bone marrow donor. And perhaps one day, I'll be able to help someone," one woman commented. "If I do, I'll remember Kajal and be thankful to her and all the wonderful people, including her amazing classmates, that supported her and raised awareness."
Athens Academy students wore red uniform tops to school on Tuesday to honor Kajal's memory, according to a parent.