How do you thank the person who saved your life?

406773_10151319885240429_757544171_n.jpgIn April, Jenna Langer was on The Daily Circuit talking about the challenges facing young people with cancer. Just one year prior, Langer had been diagnosed with her third bout of cancer, which could turn into leukemia without a bone marrow transplant.

Langer found her match in a stranger. Twenty-year-old Maxine Renning went through with the transplant and Langer is now healthy and cancer free.

Part of the donation process requires anonymity for a year between the transplant recipient and their donor. If both parties are interested after that year, they are allowed to exchange contact information. The two have been in touch since June, but this weekend they met in person for the first time.

Pictured: Renning (left) and Langer, courtesy Rachel Hoffmann

From Langer’s blog, The Redhead Report:

What I love most about Maxine is her unassuming altruism. In our first Skype date, I was finally able to ask her why she joined Be The Match in the first place. Leading up to my transplant, my family and I had ventured fantastic stories about why a then-19 year-old had joined Be The Match. She must have had an emotive connection, a reason she would be on a list like this so young.

Well, Maxine has always – well, for the few years she could – been a big believer in blood donation. A freshman in college, she went to a blood drive on campus with an empty stomach, knowing full well the spread of food they would offer post-donation for replenishment. But when the nurse took her temperature she determined it too high for donation. Maxine was torn. Could she silence her stomach growls and take one measly piece of pepperoni for her efforts before darting to class? She walked over to the card table holding the pizza boxes and, next to it, was the Be The Match registration table. So she joined – for a slice of pizza.

WCCO covered the meeting. The video really captures the moment:

I’ve known about Langer and followed her story for some time through my cousin who also battled bone cancer. Langer visited my cousin in the hospital when she was going through treatment.

Her story inspired me to join the bone marrow registry through Be The Match. You can find out more about the donation process at the Be The Match site and sign up to be a donor too. About 70 percent of the 10,000 patients needing a bone marrow transplant each year don’t have a suitable donor within their family, so they rely on the registry to find a match.

Emily Kaiser, associate digital producer