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Bone Marrow Donor, Recipient Meet For 1st Time

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ONTARIO (CBSLA.com) — A bone marrow donor who lives in California, had an emotional meeting Wednesday with the man he gave the gift of life to.

Grant Vietor and his family came from Iowa to spend time with Alex Fishburn, a UC Riverside student, and his family.

The Vietors want to see the beach, the mountains and all the things California is known for. But, as Greg Mills reported for CBS2, they really wanted to see and thank Fishburn.

“I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for him,” says Vietor.

On Valentine’s Day 2012, Fishburn saved Grant Vietor’s life with a bone marrow transplant.

Bonita Vietor, Grant’s wife, said “When they called us and said that [they found] a donor who was a ten for ten match, we were just in awe.”

Vietor had leukemia. It had been in remission for a year-and-a-half but then it came back. Doctor’s said he only had one hope. He needed a bone marrow transplant.

“I thought I was going to die. But thanks to him, I have a life now. And I’m doing great,” said Vietor.

Fishburn gave blood five years ago at the LifeStream Blood Donor Center in Ontario. They asked him if he would be interested in signing up for the bone marrow donor registry.

Three years ago, he got the call that he was a match. Fishburn says he dreaded the idea until he found out the process is not the painful experience it used to be.

“You get injections for five days before. The injections force your stem cells out of the bone marrow, and they just harvest the cells. It takes about two-and-half hours. And they give your blood back to you and then you go home,” says Fishburn.

Vietor is a coach and teacher, Fishburn a student who wants to teach. Vietor’s wife, Bonita, says the two men “are quite similar. It will be fun to get to know Alex.”

The Fishburns are playing host to the Vietors this weekend. “We’re going to go to an Angels game. We’re going to the mountains — Big Bear for a little bit. And they wanted to see the beach, obviously,” says Fishburn.

The two families will spend a mere few days together but their bond will last a lifetime.

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