BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--After an international search of the bone marrow registry, a California father of three diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) found his lifesaving donor nearly 3,000 miles away in New Jersey. On Sunday, April 29, the two were introduced for the first time at Gift of Life Marrow Registry’s Steps for Life 5k Run and Walk held at Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Brighton, Mass.
Avi Guttman, 29, a lawyer and father of two who resides in Fair Lawn, N.J., joined the marrow registry in 2007 when he was still an undergraduate student at Yeshiva University. When he received the call ten years later that he was a match for someone and had the chance to save a life, he was ecstatic.
“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 Avi. “When it all was done, it felt great to save someone’s life. It didn’t take much on my part. The process was pretty simple and I’m just so thrilled that I can give someone a second chance to keep moving in life.”
David Llodra, 51, of Sonoma, Calif., was diagnosed with AML in October 2016 after developing several cysts on his hands, legs and neck. David’s first reaction was that the diagnosis must have been a lab error, but after confirming the results he went into survival mode and tried staying optimistic. After his brother was not a match, fear began to set in about the possibility of not finding a donor. However, it was not long after that he was told there was a match.
“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 David. “My recovery was very fast and I was home in less than a month. Thank you for the second chance, Avi.”
After the donor and recipient’s introduction, Kayla Hammergren and James Strejc, the donor and recipient pair who met at the first Gift of Life Boston 5k in 2015, served as grand marshals and kicked off the run and walk with McKesson, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and CBRE serving as this year’s Platinum Sponsors. More than 400 people participated in the event which raises funds to go toward underwriting the $60 cost associated with processing each donor swab kit to be added to the worldwide registry.
For more information about Gift of Life Marrow Registry, visit: www.giftoflife.org.
ABOUT GIFT OF LIFE
Gift of Life Marrow Registry is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. Gift of Life is dedicated to saving lives and facilitating bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood-related diseases. For more information, visit www.giftoflife.org.