DURHAM, NC (WNCN) — A cancer patient treated at Duke met the man who helped save his life Saturday.
Randy Pence, a father of 3 from West Virginia, suffered from myelofibrosis, a type of leukemia, and needed a bone marrow transplant nearly 4 years ago.
When no family members were a match, the search turned to unrelated donors. Steven Lasiter was found clear across the country. The US Marine and firefighter from California donated his bone marrow to Randy.
After learning each others identities about a year after the transplant, the men kept in touch through email, but had never met face to face until Saturday.
The meeting brought smiles and tears.
“There’s some things that just leave you speechless and for me to be speechless is pretty amazing,” said Pence.
“It’s indescribable, actually,” added Lasiter. “Being a firefighter, I’ve helped many people through the course of my career. I’ve never had the chance to see it all the way until the end and see how much of an impact something very specific I had done would actually impact someone’s life.”
Lasiter says he originally signed up as a bone marrow donor with the organization Be The Match when a colleague’s relative needed a transplant. He wasn’t a match for that person, but he later learned he was a match for Pence. “This really was a culmination of a career’s worth of helping people. Just to see how it comes to be and how fantastic it is, it’s a great feeling,” said Lasiter.
“To finally meet the gentleman who took the time out of his life to donate to me so that I could live and be with my family, it’s emotional,” said Pence, holding back tears.
The reunion was hosted by the Duke Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Program. The program is celebrating its 30th year and treated it’s 5,000th recipient in June.
And although they’ll both go back to their separate lives in west Virginia and California, both said there are just two words strong enough to describe their bond.
“He’s a blood brother,” said Pence.
Lasiter echoed, “We’ve definitely become blood brothers, literally. This bond that’s been found here is going to be unbreakable.”
Both Lasiter and Pence encourage everyone to sign up to donate Bone Marrow. For more information you can go to https://bethematch.org/