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Former cancer patient meets donor who saved his life

Former Cancer Patient Meets Donor Who Saved His Life

Imagine finally meeting someone who saved your life. Well, Ron Oppedisano of Illinois was finally given that chance when he met his bone marrow donor.

Thankfully, the transplant went smoothly. The former mayor of Norridge and his donor Samantha Nielsen were recently allowed to exchange contact information to meet for the first time.

'I felt like I could help somebody, and it could save somebody's life.'

According to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, 70 percent of people who need bone marrow transplants don't have matches in their families and have to rely on donors.

This was the case for Oppedisano when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2010.

He underwent several rounds of chemotherapy before going into remission. But Norridge-Harwood Heights News he relapsed a couple of years later and was in dire need of a bone marrow transplant.

According to the National Institutes of Health, bone marrow transplants replace bone marrow that's been destroyed through chemotherapy or other radiation treatments.

Nobody in Oppedisano's family was a perfect bone marrow match, so he enrolled in the Be The Match marrow registry in hopes of finding one. After he enrolled, all he could do was wait.

But the wait stopped abruptly when Nielsen from Texas, who was only 21 years old at the time, was willing to donate. Dr. Patrick Stiff from the Loyola University Medical Center said Nielsen was a "10 out of 10 perfect match." Oppedisano told ABC that no words can express how much he owes her.

'Every day I wake up and thank God that I'm here.' Of Nielson, he says, 'I wouldn't be here without you, I mean that.'

Nielsen says she feels like this was just a small sacrifice. The two decided to celebrate their reunion by participating in a run to raise donations and awareness for the Be The Match foundation.

Join the discussion

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hensteeth April 23 2014 at 5:50 AM

What a truly beautiful story!

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1 reply
kyleranne hensteeth April 23 2014 at 9:11 AM

The more we give, the more we get. Ms. Nielson is a true testimony to that fact and a blessing for the example she sets.

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alspoolhall April 23 2014 at 12:45 PM

Good for you Samantha because you made the effort and remembered that except for the grace of God, go I . . . good sentiment even if one doesn't believe, believe . . . good for Ron who was so lucky to be helped by Samantha.

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nordengto April 23 2014 at 1:30 PM

God Bless you both.

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jnjsec April 23 2014 at 1:37 PM

Very nice. My sister donated one of her kidneys to me.

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linda April 23 2014 at 2:07 PM

This is so wondeful. My youngest son who was 32 at the time he was diagnosed with ACL in 2007. No one in the family was compatible and there was a lady from Germany that was the perfect match and she donated her bone marrow for my son. She asked to not be known and I sure would love to meet her and tell her Thank You for saving my son. He is now in 6 yrs remission. Who ever the lady is I would like to Thank You if you are reading this..

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pqkief April 23 2014 at 3:26 PM


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jestani111 April 23 2014 at 4:28 PM

You are an amazing person Samantha, may Gob Bless you to what you've done to this man!

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1 reply
jestani111 jestani111 April 23 2014 at 4:29 PM


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murrayelectricfl April 23 2014 at 5:30 PM


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Denise April 23 2014 at 6:07 PM


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jhtripp April 23 2014 at 6:37 PM


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