Erik Gracia was just two years old when diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood. After undergoing months of intense chemotherapy, he went into remission but relapsed in 2012 at the age of nine. This time Erik required a stem cell transplant to save his life and without a match in his family, Erik would have to rely on the generosity of unrelated donor.
3000 kilometres away 20-year old Texas college student Brent Lewelling received a phone call telling him that that a little boy in Canada needed his help – he was a perfect stem cell match for the patient and his cells could save the child’s life. Brent had registered to be a stem cell donor a couple of years at a high school drive – he understood his commitment and didn’t hesitate to step forward. Brent’s decision and his generous act of donation saved Erik’s life. This little boy is now strong, healthy and thriving.
On July 7 2016, the pair met for the first time in the Gracia family’s backyard in Calgary Alberta.
Reunions like this are rare and inspire us to continue to build stem cell registries that reflects the needs of patients all over the world.