Gift of Life: Bone marrow donor, recipient meet for the first time

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Alec Burkin is a college student from Boston. In 2012, he was on a study abroad trip in Israel when he signed up to be a bone marrow donor.

"It was there that I swabbed my mouth in a basement in a hotel in Jerusalem," said Burkin. "I definitely thought it was a good thing to do for that day."

Months later, Susan was faced with terrible news. "I had gone into the doctor because I had strep throat and I went in for my prescription and he said I don't like the way you look and he took a blood test," she said.

Leukemia was the diagnosis. Only about 30% of family members are a bone marrow match. Susan's siblings were not. Burkin was.

"I knew then and there I was gonna go through with it, said Burkin.

Bone marrow transplants are completely anonymous for one year. Alec and Susan never met until the Gift of Life's 5K race on Sunday when he was introduced.

"Up until fifteen minutes ago I knew she was a 59-year-old woman and that's it," said Burkin.

"I wasn't aware how few people actually find a match right away, it wasn't until afterwards," said Susan who is visiting West Palm Beach from Chicago. 

"She is so personable, has such a great personality and I can't wait to get to know her," said Burkin.

"I feel better now than I even did two years ago," Susan said.

Alec says bone marrow is now given through a less invasive procedure that is similar to a blood test.

If you contact the Gift of Life they'll send you a kit in the mail, all you have to do is swab the inside of your mouth and down the line you could find out like Alec that you're a match and could save someone's life.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments