CORTLAND, NY (WSYR-TV) - A SUNY Cortland football player helped save the life of a 2-year-old girl from California by donating his bone marrow. On Sunday, the two met for the fist time in Cortland.
Back in 2010, John Stephens joined the SUNY Cortland football team's "Get in the game, save a life" National Marrow Donor Program.
His donation went to Clara Boyle, who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.
"Part of her treatment, because of the type of leukemia that she had, she was very high risk, so she had a very specific plan that was mapped out for her to survive this and that involved a bone marrow transplant," said Clara’s mother Brooke Boyle.
Weeks after Clara’s diagnoses, the Boyle family was connected to Stephens.
He donated his bone marrow through the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and was Clara's perfect match.
"I was originally supposed to do the donation in November but she got sick, so we did it in January when she was better and she received the bone marrow the very next day, January 12th," said Stephens.
For more than a year, Clara and Stephens couldn't meet because of restrictions with their donor program. But on August 3rd, Clara's mom sent Stephens an e-mail that simply read, "You saved her life."
From that day on they made plans for a reunion and neither family realized just how special it would be.
"To finally be able to hold her is amazing," said Stephens.
"You want her to have a life and a future and meeting the man that made that possible is amazing," said Boyle.