The nonprofit Gift of Life Marrow Registry recently helped a California father of three get a second chance at life, after matching a donor nearly 3,000 miles away in New Jersey.
The Gift of Life registry is an organization dedicated to saving lives and facilitating bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood-related diseases.
David Llodra, 51, of Sonoma, California, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in October 2016. After an unsuccessful search for bone-marrow matching donors within close family circles, Llodra turned to the Gift of Life registry.
The registry matches blood-cancer patients with donors worldwide.
There are five steps all donors have to do: 1. Join the registry, 2. Wait for confirmatory typing (if potential donors are called, they will be asked for a blood test), 3. Work up (once donors are found to be a match, they’ll be further examined), 4. Donation (donors will be asked to give either their peripheral blood stem cells or bone marrow), and 5. Transplant.
In Llodra’s case, his lifesaving donor was Avi Guttman, 29, for Fair Lawn, a lawyer and a father of two who had joined the Gift of Life registry while studying at Yeshiva University. He received the call 10 years later and the chance to help Llodra.
“When I heard from Gift of Life I had totally forgotten I was in the registry, but I thought it was amazing that I was chosen,” said Guttman in a press release. “When it all was done, it felt great to save someone’s life. It didn’t take much on my part,” and called the process “pretty simple.”
“I was in the hospital getting ready for my transplant and it was fascinating to hear that it usually takes at least a month to get everything prepared for the donation, but we were able to do it in three weeks because of my donor,” said Llodra. “My recovery was very fast and I was home in less than a month. Thank you for the second chance, Avi.”
The two were introduced on Sunday, April 29, for the first time, during a Gift of Life’s Steps for Life 5K Run and Walk, held at Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Brighton, Massachusetts.
The event raises money that goes toward underwriting the $60 cost associated with processing donors for the registry.
Because Gift of Life is a nonprofit organization, all costs are covered by donations. Those wishing to contribute can sign up here.