By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A South Plains man is finally united with the bone marrow donor who saved his live more than two years ago.
Ivan Molina and his wife Rosio moved from Mexico to Denver City years ago. In 2002 Ivan was diagnosed with a rare condition. His body stopped producing blood and his bone marrow began transforming into Leukemia.
Doctors said he would die without a bone marrow transplant. "There was a lot of pain, a lot of suffering," said Ivan. "I was grateful my family was with me at my bedside. I had a lot of faith."
"I thought my daughter was going to stay without a father, me without a husband," said Ivan's wife Rosio.
Each year his condition became worse and Ivan lost his job. With no insurance Ivan could not be put on the transplant list. "It was very difficult to see the transformation to being very sick and putting on another face, and having to pretend that everything was fine," said Rosio.
Doctors said patients in his condition usually don't make it six months, but surviving two more years Ivan was able to apply for disability, making him eligible for the transplant. In 2008 the Molina's prayers were answered.
"I got a letter saying I was one of 200 possible matches. I sent them a blood sample, and they came back and said you're it. You're the top match," said Tyler Burkhart, 28.
More than 1,400 miles away in Sacramento, California Tyler decided to donate his bone marrow. "The painful part was the injections. About the fourth day I started feeling feverish a little weak and tired. That was the worst part," said Tyler.
A pain Tyler says was well worth the risk for saving the life of a loving husband and father – a man finally met for the first time on Friday. Both Ivan and Tyler sat in a conference room surrounded by doctors and nurses from UMC while their story was told. Neither knew who each other were until about half an hour later.
"I was pretty nervous sitting up at the front. I started getting choked up, a little emotional and I couldn't really think of anything to say," said Tyler after the two hugged and shook hands for the first time.
Rosio began crying, and a single tear fell down Ivan's face. "Very happy and very grateful," said Ivan.
Ivan is now healthy, but the miracles didn't stop there. After the transplant the Molina's wanted another child but doctors said because of the chemotherapy and how sick Ivan was, there was little chance.
Now five-weeks-old Ivan and Rosio have a new baby girl. "Very grateful to God, and very grateful to the donor just because they've given us an opportunity to let our family grow," said Rosio.
An opportunity Tyler says he would do all over again. "They took me off the transplant list for three years and I thought I would never do it again. But it's been almost three years and I'd do it again. I'd do it again pretty easily," said Tyler.
Learn more about how to become a bone marrow transplant donor by (clicking here).
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