Marrow donor and recipient meet at Be The Match 5K

Marrow donor and recipient meet at Be The Match 5K

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Running Saturday's Be The Match 5k is a small task for Rob McKenzie compared to battling leukemia as a 20 year old.

"Of course you're scared," McKenzie said of when he first heard of his diagnosis. "Everyone has that thought of fear."

Doctors told McKenzie he'd need a bone marrow donor.

"We were all praying an hoping that it was going to happen," McKenzie said.

The Be The Match program connects donors around the nation with potential matches.

"There's only about a one in 70,000 chance you'll ever be called to be a match but if you are called, you literally are saving somebody's life," Ashley Collier, a Be The Match Community Engagement Manager said.

In Joshua Delany's case, he answered McKenzie's prayers by answering a phone call.

"They asked 'Hey is this Joshua Delany', I said yes; 'Do you remember joining the bone marrow registry'. I was like yeah," Delany said. "'Well you are a preliminary match to a 20 year old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Are you interested in donating', and I pulled my car over on the side of the road and I said what can I do to help."

Delany was originally anonymous, but decided to release his name and the two strangers became friends.

"It was kind of surreal," Delany said. "I was just getting endless emails from family, friends, his girlfriend. It was kind of a little overwhelming to be honest with you."

Separated by 3,000 miles, the two met for the first time Saturday to run just three more.

"Definitely an out of body experience kind of," McKenzie said.

"It's incredible to see this family that's together because of a bone marrow donation," Delany said.

McKenzie is now cancer free and Sunday may not have happened without a checked box and a swabbed cheek.

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