Lakeland bone marrow recipient meets firefighter donor who saved his life

10:28 PM, Jan 30, 2014   |    comments
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Lakeland, Florida-- Imagine you're told you have three-to-six months to live, but thanks to the generosity of others, it's been over a year-and-a-half and counting.

John Ciempa, a 66-year-old resident of Lakeland, suffers from a rare bone marrow disorder, and was told he needed a bone marrow match to survive.

In may of 2012, a match was delivered, and now John graciously gets to meet the man who saved his life, 31-year-old Christopher Howard, a New York firefighter.

"This is the bag of stem cells that were hand delivered," John said as he held the bag in his hands. "This is what they were giving me from Christopher, that I didn't know was Christopher at the time."

Christopher said he's happy to have the opportunity to help John, and people in general.

"My dad said to find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life. I'm glad I'm on this job because it's given me the opportunity to help other people," he said, adding that he was inspired to give by his father, a port authority police officer who lost his life rescuing others on September 11th.

Members of the Fire Department City of New York make up the New York Blood Center's single largest group of bone marrow and stem cell donors.

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