MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A south Minneapolis chef is a lifesaver. He was able to help a young girl in a way he never imagined.

Harriet Brasserie in Linden Hills eatery has been open four years — and almost every day, Fernando Silva has been inside.

“He is here just about every operational minute that this restaurant is open,” said manager Amanda Jacobson.

Sixteen hour days are common.

“This job is intense,” Silva said.

But before the Brazil native owned a restaurant, and before he was a dad, he took a walk and he saw a stand to sign up to be a donor for Be the Match. That was more than eight years ago.

“It was a simple swab, throw in an envelope, they have your DNA, it goes to a bank and that’s how it starts,” Silva said.

Fernando was watching his 7-year-old son play at a playground when he got the call from Be the Match. A young girl had lymphoma and Fernando was a match.

Silva says he was told it’s a type of cancer that “can be all solved by a bone marrow transplant.”

He’d never been put to sleep or taken leave from work but said yes.

“I am in a great position here to actually be able to have a choice. This girl doesn’t have a choice,” he said.

In late January he was nervously admitted to the Mayo Clinic.

“They’ll put you under and they’ll take in this case the bone marrow from your side key areas. And yes, it hurt a lot,” Silva said.

But this busy father says it felt even better.

“I hope she’ll have that same chance to go around and run.”

And she likely will thanks to a chef who finally took a few days off.

“It’s taught us all a whole lot about just human nature,” Jacobson said.

Fernando doesn’t know the little girl’s name, but he’s been told she is thriving after receiving his marrow.

On Saturday, he’ll be helping others this weekend by helping out with the Be the Match run where it all started — at Lake Harriet.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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