HOUSTON – A Houston boy met the person who saved his life, his bone marrow donor from Israel, for the first time Wednesday night.
When Blake Chandler was 9 years old, he was fighting for every day and every breath.
“My son was diagnosed with cancer, it was a very rare lymphoma for pediatric patients,” said Blake's mother, Rene Sigman.
The family spent months and holidays at Texas Children’s Hospital through treatment and a relapse.
“We almost lost Blake several times, and our absolute last option was a bone marrow transplant,” said his father, Brian Chandler.
Out of 31 million registered on “Be the Match,” the national marrow donor program, doctors found Blakes’ perfect match across the world, in Israel.
His donor, 19-year-old Shachar Bierman, signed up for the list when she registered for the Israeli army. Two years later, she said, she didn’t hesitate to help when she received the call from the United States.
“No hesitation... They told me there is a boy who needs his life back ... so I didn’t have any reservation. I had my childhood and friends at school and he doesn’t so, if I can do it, why not?” she said.
Bierman donated her bone marrow to a little boy from Texas she had never met, until Wednesday.
Blake, 13, said he was very nervous for the meeting.
“All I know is that I am going to meet the person who saved my life,” he said.
With a momentous hug in front of a large group, they got the meeting that they weren’t sure they would ever see.
“My heart got bigger. To see him stand here, with full hair and smiling and a kid again,” Bierman said, “it is worth the world for me.”
“It's just amazing to be here and meet the person who saved your life after two years of battling cancer,” Blake said.
Blake is now a healthy and happy teenager. His family said they will spend the rest of their lives in gratitude for a gift from a stranger who turned into family.
“I just want to tell her how thankful we are that she saved our son's life. Now he is back in school, he is cancer free and he’s healthy. It is because of the blood that runs through his veins -- that’s hers," Sigman said.