In a heartwarming meeting, Vincent Valenti, 35, of White Plains, finally had the chance to personally thank Stefan Hindl, 32, for his lifesaving bone marrow donation.
Mr. Valenti, the father of 16-month-old twin boys, survived his battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) after receiving a bone marrow transplant in September 2009 at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). The two men have been communicating online ever since, but never met in person until they were united at the 10th Annual Celebration of Life Dinner, part of NSUH’s Don Monti Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Program.
Mr. Valenti received his first ALL diagnosis in 1999, then suffered a relapse in 2008. He was told that his only hope for a normal life would be a bone marrow transplant. “Vincent is a real fighter. He has a beautiful family and a lot to live for,” said his physician, Ruthee-Lu Bayer, MD, director of the Don Monti Bone Marrow Transplantation Program at NSUH. “It’s always such a thrill for us to see how a bone marrow transplant can allow whole families to survive.”
Through an interpreter, Mr. Hindl said that he was thrilled to fly in from Germany to meet the man whose life he saved. Even though the two have been Facebook friends since last year, Mr. Valenti, who was joined by his wife, Christina, and twin sons, Dominic and Nicholas, said, “I’m so happy to have the chance to thank Stefan in person. Facebook is a great way to communicate, but it was important for me to have the chance to thank him in person.”
The meeting of Mr. Valenti and Mr. Hindl was made possible by the generosity of the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation. The Celebration of Life Dinner brings together bone marrow donors and recipients, family members, healthcare professionals and supporters.
Mr. Valenti summed up the spirit of the reunion: “Stefan and I have the same bone marrow now, which means we are connected in a very special way. Our plan is to stay in contact always. We’re much more than Facebook friends.”
Save a life. Visit Marrow-Donor.org to learn about donating bone marrow. Visit bit.ly/PocDTm to witness the dramatic first encounter between a New Yorker and the man from Germany who donated bone marrow to save his life.