Shannon Tavarez

Shannon Tavarez

Young Broadway star Shannon Tavarez, who waged a battle against acute myeloid leukemia, has died. She was 11. She had been fighting leukemia since April.

Tavarez played young Nala in The Lion King from 2009 until she was diagnosed with cancer in April 2010.  Musicians Alicia Keys, Beyonce, 50 Cent and Rihanna rallied and appeared in DKMS campaigns to help Tavarez find a bone marrow donor.

When doctors were unsuccessful at finding a match, she underwent an procedure with umbilical-cord blood from an anonymous donor. Tavarez attended the Harlem School of the Arts, and studied singing and piano since age 3. Her coach encouraged her to attend the first open audition for The Lion King at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater.

Please watch this brief video to learn how you can become a potential bone marrow donor.


  • DKMS provides patients and their families’ access to the largest marrow donor database in the world. More than 23,000 of our donors helped save lives by donating their bone marrow.
  • DKMS is the world’s largest bone marrow donor center with nearly 2.5 million registered donors, providing 29% of all transplants in the U.S.
  • DKMS Americas is a national bone marrow donor center able to hold bone marrow donor drives in every state across America, making it possible for the patients family to be involved, regardless of location
  • DKMS recruits donors of all races and ethnicities and adds them to the Be The Match Registry® (operated by the NMDP), so all patients can benefit
  • DKMS is a very flexible organization and works to accommodate the schedules and needs of our donors, patients and their families
  • DKMS appoints one of its dedicated staff members to be your contact for donor drives
  • DKMS does not make it mandatory for the donor to cover the $65 registration cost, but we gladly accept and appreciate any voluntary contribution that is made