New York man donates blood stem cells to save a life
Justin Lederer believes that life often puts the unexpected in your path, so he wasn’t too surprised when he got the call in November 2015 that he was a match for a 62-year-old man suffering from leukemia. He had joined the Gift of Life Marrow Registry in August 2008 during his birthright trip to Israel when he was 26, at a drive in Jerusalem.
Eight years later, after he was called as a match, Justin set out to learn as much as he could about the peripheral blood stem cell transplant process, and said, “Medicine has come so far. It’s great that there is the potential for donor matches nowadays, when 25 years ago that wasn’t the case.” He also had a personal connection through his best friend, whose father, a leukemia patient, was not able to receive a donation and passed away not long before Justin was called. Justin felt that, “if I could help somebody and save a life, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
The process for Justin and his recipient had a few delays – although the match was confirmed in November 2015, the donation was not made until March, as both Justin and his recipient got sick several times during the winter months. Finally the time was right and Justin, a resident of New York, made his way to the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey for his donation day. A Gift of Life donation coordinator was with him the entire time.
“Everything with Gift of Life was so amazing, so orderly and having someone there really helped me a lot,” said Justin. His recovery went quickly as well, with Justin reporting little more than a headache afterward.
He also received some recognition from family and friends, and helped make others aware of the need for blood marrow and stem cell donors. “Some people opened their eyes and said ‘Hey, I could help, too,’” said Justin. “The more potential donors that get on the registry, the more opportunities for matches and lives saved.”
Like every donor, Justin will receive anonymous updates about his recipient over the course of the next year. If they both choose to do so, after one year they are permitted to learn each other’s identities and communicate directly. Perhaps they’ll meet in person one day.
Justin works in the financial industry in New York City, and plans to become more involved with Gift of Life donor drives and events.