ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A four year old who received a bone marrow transplant while still a baby and his family got to meet the man who provided that life-saving donation for the first time Thursday at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Thursday.
- Donor Steven Marincel, now 27, lives in Chicago
- Marincel matched to Owen Allman thanks to "Be the Match" registry
- To learn more about registry, visit http://join.bethematch.org/FL
For the Allman family, to say it was an emotional meeting would be an understatement.
"It’s so nice to meet you," said Megan Allman through tears as she greeted Steven Marincel.
"It’s so nice to meet you too," Marincel said.
The Allmans live in New Smyrna Beach. Marincel is from Chicago, Illinois.
They might not have met face-to-face until today, but they have been bonded for years.
"We’re forever grateful for you saving our little boy," said Bill Allman.
Marincel, now 27, was the life-saving bone marrow donor to Megan and Bill's son, Owen, who needed a bone marrow transplant when he was just a baby.
Meeting and connecting
"That was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, because he was in a lot of pain, and I’m just very thankful he was so little that he doesn’t remember it," Megan explained.
Instead, meeting and connecting with Marincel is what the Allmans want Owen, now 4 years old, to remember.
"We tell him he’s his 'special friend,'" said Allman.
Upon meeting, the two quickly bonded over building blocks, books, baseball, even career choices.
Marincel is a fourth-year medical student, while young Owen wants to be a doctor.
"A simple decision"
"You’re so thankful that he saved your kid’s life that, you know, there’s so many emotions going on at once and it’s hard to put that into words," Megan told us.
"It was just incredible, just being able to see how Owen as an infant grew up into this little kid,” said Marincel. "That it was possible just because of a simple action, a simple decision I made."
Marincel went on say he couldn't be happier with that decision, to register on the Be the Match registry. The Allmans, for their part, couldn’t be more grateful.
"We are so happy that we are able to see him the way he is now and that we are able to see him grow into who he can be," Megan said.
The Allmans and Marincel expect special bond between donor and recipient will grow, too.
"I think this is something that will continue to be a very special connection as we both grow older,” said Marincel. “And I hope wherever Owen ends up, I can still be a part of his life."