Bone Marrow Donor and Recipient Meet for the First Time

Bone marrow recipient Christopher Court, 52, of Farmingdale, LI, enjoys his first meeting with the young man who saved his life, Cecil “Harvey” Creasey, 20, a junior at Virginia Tech. Mr. Creasey said he had the cheek swab done on a whime, and was thrilled to learn one year later that he was a match for Mr. Court.

In a heartwarming meeting, Christopher Court, 52, of Farmingdale, NY, finally had the chance to personally thank Cecil “Harvey” Creasey, a junior at Virginia Tech, for the bone marrow that helped Mr. Court survive his ongoing battle with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

The two have only communicated once by mail since the successful bone marrow transplant at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in the summer of 2015, but had never set eyes on each other.

Mr. Court, a project manager at a law firm, said he was frightened when he learned he had AML, characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells.

“It was very difficult to hear that diagnosis,” said Mr. Court. “But today is a day of great happiness. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to meet Harvey. It’s just amazing to me that someone so young could have such an impact on my life.”

“Chris is such a kind man with a wonderful family,” said his physician Ruthee-Lu Bayer, MD, director of the Don Monti Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Program. “It’s always such a thrill for us to see how a bone marrow transplant can give a person a second chance at life. And what a wonderful thing for Harvey to have done -- to become a hero at such a young age. I truly believe that both lives are changed forever when a bone marrow transplant takes place.”

Mr. Harvey said the idea of saving another person’s life is still sinking in. “I decided to donate bone marrow on a whim,” he said. “It was such an easy process -- just a cheek swab -- so when I got the call a year later that I was a match, it was really stunning. This is the most amazing thing that’s happened in my life.”

Mr. Court summed up the importance of the event: “We have the same bone marrow now, which means we are connected in a very special way,” he said. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to share our story.”

The reunion took place at the annual Celebration of Life Dinner, sponsored by the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation,  held at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. The event is a highlight for bone marrow donors and recipients, family members, healthcare professionals and supporters.

In June 1972, 16-year-old Don Monti died at NSUH of myeloblastic leukemia. Within days of his death, his parents Tita and Joseph Monti committed themselves to founding an organization in his memory, dedicated to the mission of finding a cure for cancer. They established the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation at the hospital, and raised and contributed tens of millions of dollars over the years toward cancer research, education, fellowship and patient care. Today, the program is under the stewardship of Caroline Monti Saladino, whose parents began this vital work more than 40 years ago.

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Michelle Pinto
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