Almost two years after Peter Levine received a stem cell donation to treat his non-Hodgkin T-cell lymphoma from a stranger, the Boston native had a chance to thank the donor — 24-year-old Cheryl Rosenberg — at the third annual Gift of Life Marrow Registry Steps for Life 5K run held in that city on April 30.
The donation was made possible by the Gift of Life, a Florida-based nonprofit organization that allows people to register for bone marrow donation, and facilitates transplants of bone marrow and blood stem cells for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood-related diseases.
The emotional meeting was witnessed by about 600 people, and captured by a local TV news station. The station’s report can be seen here.
“Doing this for me is something I will forever be grateful for,” Levine, 67, who received his cancer diagnosis in 2014, said in a press release. “Without Cheryl and Gift of Life, I might not be here today celebrating my second life.”
“It was my obligation and absolute desire to help this man as much as I possibly could,” Rosenberg, who lives in New York, said. “I felt this overwhelming sense of excitement to learn that I could really have an impact on someone’s life.”
When Levine was diagnosed, he also was told to look into a blood stem cell transplant, but that no one in his family was compatible for the donation. That knowledge brought him to reach out to the Gift of Life.
According to the organization’s policy, neither donor nor patient can reveal their identities until a year after the procedure. The two finally were authorized to meet at the race.
After being introduced, Levine and Rosenberg led the start of the Gift of Life run/walk race. The event brought nearly 100 runners and walkers together to promote fund-raising and donor registration, in order to keep helping those in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. McKesson Corporation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts were the event’s leading sponsors.
People interested in joining the registry or making a contribution to the Gift of Life may do so here.
Two other donor and recipient pairs will meet for a first time at Gift of Life’s Annual Gala, set for May 17 in New York City.