Twenty-four year old leukemia survivor Erica Meyer, a resident of Orlando, Fla., was thrilled to meet the man whose blood stem cell transplant had saved her life, Raphael Feigenbaum, 24, of Old Lyme, Conn. They were introduced by Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. Due to U.S. medical privacy laws, donors and recipients must wait at least one year before learning the identity of their matches, so introductions are emotional and heartwarming.
Meyer was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017 after being unwell for months, and the cancer was kept at bay for several years. But, when the treatments stopped working, doctors recommended a blood stem cell transplant as Meyers best hope of a cure. Fortunately, Feigenbaum was already in Gift of Lifes registry as a volunteer stem cell or marrow donor.
Feigenbaum joined the registry after learning at a family dinner that his parents and siblings had all joined at different times. He thought it sounded like a great idea and immediately ordered a cheek swab kit from the organizations website, and two days later was swabbing to join the registry while sitting at the same dinner table.
I feel great, said Meyer when meeting Feigenberg. I feel better than I have for the past four years. Its been a year and a month since my transplant and I want to thank everyone who has ever gone out and raised awareness of donating stem cells and bone marrow it means the world to me and my family.
I cant believe Im here and Im so glad youre doing well, said Feigenbaum. Its like magic, everyone at Gift of Life is a miracle worker and I feel truly blessed to be part of this.
During the gala, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber was recognized for his ongoing support of Gift of Lifes mission. Under his leadership, Miami Beach now holds an annual Gift of Life Marrow Registry Day in partnership with the Miami Beach Police and Fire Departments and the City Commission.
Also recognized for their ongoing contributions to the organizations lifesaving mission were Michele Burger, Marisa Galbut, Gail Oliver, Dr. Brooke Owens, and Liza Samuel.
WPLG Local 10 anchor and Emmy-Award-winning journalist Louis Aguirre served as the events master of ceremonies.
About Gift of Life Marrow Registry
Gift of Life Marrow Registry is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. The organization, established in 1991, is dedicated to saving lives by facilitating blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood-related diseases. The registry houses its own state-of-the-art stem cell collection center, biobank, and cellular therapy laboratory. To learn more about Gift of Life Marrow Registry, visit www.giftoflife.org