Local cancer survivor meets stem-cell donor who saved his life

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Aaron Plaster will never forget February 2017.

“I was working full-time outside just full force," Plaster said.

That's when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia , a cancer usually found in young children.

"And then you’re on your back for a year, year and a half," Plaster said.

With his health in the balance, he began his fight at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center with his wife and daughter by his side.

“She was 3 months at the time,” he said.

To remain a rock for his family, he needed stem-cell therapy.

His match, a 23-year-old woman who lived 3,000 miles away.

Thanks to the Be The Match foundation, the two met for a 5K walk in Oak Ridge this past weekend.

“I think she could just know it on my face there’s really nothing I could say to her to express the gratitude towards her. She’s part of my family now," Plaster said.

Maddie Gamache joined the donor registry a couple years before the match was made when she was a student at Oregon State University.

She joined the Plaster family once she began the donation process on her own birthday.

“If I can do this on my 23rd birthday, I really hope I can help someone reach their next birthday," Gamache said.

She feels her deeds pale when compared to the stakes.

“I only had to do that for a couple days vs. Aaron has the battle of his life," Gamache said.

Aaron is in remission and visits Wake Forest Baptist for quarterly checkups.

The hospital does around 120 procedures like this yearly, but the feeling of success never gets old.

“It never stops being one of those experiences that’s really life changing," said Dianna Howard, M.D.

Saving a life is easier than you'd imagine. It's free for people from ages 18-44.

Join the registry at bethematch.org.

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