It's a difficult situation to imagine: your child has a life-threatening condition and their only hope is a bone marrow donation.That's exactly what happened with a family in California two years ago. A local college student stepped up and gave them the gift of life. Our Elyse Mickalonis has the story.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- SUNY Cortland Junior John Stephens is dedicated on the field and in school.
“He loves the school, it’s a great program, being on the football team, great coaching, great staff, he has it great up here, he loves it," said John's father, Paul Stephens.
But it was a choice the Goshen-native made two years ago that many say truly defines him.
“John was ready to donate and at the time he could have lost some potential time on the field, but he was willing to do that," says Paul Stephens.
Stephens and his parents participated in the football team’s “Get in the Game, Save a Life” National Marrow Donor Program Drive during a recruiting visit at Cortland in 2010.
A swab of his mouth to obtain cheek cells proved that he was a perfect match for a newborn girl with leukemia.
“You want young, male and different indicators that he had all of. All the way down to blood type. They’re both O positive and that’s something you just don’t get to be that picky," Brooke Boyle said.
On January 11, 2011, Stephens was able to donate his bone marrow at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, then nearly 3,000 miles away Clara Violet Boyle received the transplant the following day.
After two years of not knowing who he donated his bone marrow to, the Boyle family made contact. They finally met in person on Saturday.
John Stephens said, "I knew before I met them that I wanted to be a part of their life. You know, watch her grow up, watch her do things she may not have been able to do if I didn't go through with the process."
Stephens says he never second-guessed his decision or worried about his own health, because the idea of helping such a young child live was all that mattered.”
“This is the best possible thing that could happen and being a part of it is amazing,” Stephens said.
For more information on becoming a donor, click on the National Marrow Donor Program's website here.