Bone marrow recipients meet their donors at City of Hope reunion

DUARTE, Calif. (KABC) -- Finding a bone marrow match can be like finding a needle in a haystack. But every year at the City of Hope, stories of miracles are born.

Patients met their life saving donors for the first time at the City of Hope's 41st annual Bone Marrow Reunion.

In 2005, Sgt. Mike Cook donated bone marrow to his match Evan Braggs. It helped Braggs beat the devastating blood disease aplastic anemia.

The men said it felt like long lost brothers seeing each other for the first time.

"I'll just continue to lead the best life that I can and hopefully make him proud of me," said Braggs.

"Just being able to see him period was worth more than anything to me," Cook said.

Bone marrow donor Mike Palacios met his match - leukemia survivor and devoted father of three Sergio Ramirez.

"It's an amazing feeling to wake up every morning and hear your kids, see your kids, see the sunlight," Ramirez said.

The odds of the two matches coming together were like winning the lottery.

"The chance of finding a well matched donor tends to be highest when you have a pool of the donors who are in the same ethnic group," said Dr. Ryotaro Nakamura, hermatologist and oncologist at City of Hope.

About 14.5 million Americans are registered as potential bone marrow stem cell donors, but only a portion of that are minorities. Of that donor pool, only 6 percent are African American and 9 percent are Latino.

"We don't have enough African American and Hispanic donors and we need that," Braggs said. "We need the registry to be full with those different ethnicities."
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