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Bone marrow recipient finally meets donor

October 22, 2012 2:23:01 PM PDT
There was an emotional reunion that was nine years in the making.

A teenager who received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant came face to face with the woman who made the lifesaving donation.

"Exciting, fun, happy moments," said Erin Ambrone, a bone marrow recipient.

Monday, in a hospital conference room, 17-year-old Erin Ambrone celebrated a very special milestone.

Not actually her birthday, but much more meaningful.

Nine years ago, a total stranger saved her life.

"Look at her. It's pretty amazing, emotional, pretty wonderful," said Cheryl Pogue, the bone marrow donor.

In October of 2003, Cheryl Pogue of Saskatchewan, Canada donated the bone marrow that allowed doctors to cure Erin's leukemia.

Monday, donor and recipient met for the first time.

Dr. Alfred Gillio was Erin's doctor at Hackensack University Medical Center.

"She's back in school growing developing doing all the things a normal teenager does today. So she's done fantastic," Dr. Gillio said.

Every year, 10,000 people like Erin are diagnosed with diseases that require a bone marrow transplant.

But about 70% of them don't have a matching donor in their family and hope to find a match against 9.5 million people in the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Earlier this month, ABC's own Robin Roberts returned home after undergoing a transplant of her own with bone marrow donated by her sister, which doctors hope will cure her rare blood disorder.

In Cheryl's case, she'd been on the registry because a cousin had been in need of a transplant.

She didn't match her cousin but did match the then 8 year old from New Jersey.

Nine years later, Erin is 17 and contemplating college after a gift of life Cheryl says she's so happy she made.

"I would do it again in a heartbeat. Yep, pretty wonderful," Pogue said.

For information on how you can become a bone marrow donor, please visit: http://marrow.org/

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