Shannon Tavarez, the 11-year-old actress who performed beside a king, has died a hero.
After fighting to raise awareness for leukemia and bone marrow transplants, the little girl finally succumbed to the disease. Shannon died Monday afternoon at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, on Long Island, of acute myelogenous leukemia, a common type of leukemia among adults, but rare among children.
She had played the role of Young Nala in Broadway's "The Lion King."
"She was a remarkable and talented young lady who touched the lives of those she entertained, as well as those who cared for her over the past several months," medical center said Tuesday in a statement.
In August, we reported on Shannon's difficulty in finding a suitable bone marrow transplant and her decision to try cord blood instead.
Cord blood, harvested from donated umbilical cords, is easier to match for transplants, but because it produces fewer cells than bone marrow, it is sometimes less effective.
Shannon is of mixed heritage, which made it especially difficult to find a bone marrow match. The young actress did not despair.
"Some people think that the test for compatibility is scary!" she wrote on her website to encourage others. "All it really takes to get started is a cotton swab of the inside of your cheek."