(MyFoxBoston.com) – One life saved, both lives forever touched. A man and a woman finally meet after a successful bone marrow transplant.
Both the man and the woman were strangers before the procedure and met for the first time Tuesday.
Anita Cutler, 61, of Peabody, had a rare type of leukemia and was being treated at Dana Farber. Her prognosis was not good, but because of a complete stranger she now has hope.
"That was the only cure. That was the only chance of making it. I started out with a 5 percent chance, and now I have a 95 percent chance," Cutler told FOX 25's Heather Hegedus.
The story of how Cutler stayed alive all starts with a bone marrow drive in Maryland that occurred 10 years ago.
"I did the cheek swab and sort of forgot all about it. And last January, I got a call from them saying I might be a match," Joe Robinson, of Bethesda, Md. said.
Robinson agreed to donate and underwent the procedure.
Robinson was back to work shortly after the procedure, but the journey for Cutler was much more difficult.
"I was in the hospital for 11 weeks altogether – three rounds of chemo and then the stem cell transplant," Cutler said.
The pair kept in touch, but weren't allowed to know the other's identity; however, two weeks ago, Robinson and his family made plans to visit relatives in his hometown of Lowell and contacted Cutler.
Cutler and Robinson met for the first time Tuesday and there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
"We hugged for close to five minutes, it felt like an hour. It was absolutely fantastic," Robinson said of their meeting.
Cutler is thankful to Robinson for giving her the greatest gift – her life. She now gets to see her grandchildren grow up.
Cutler is also extremely grateful because she isn't just in remission, she's cured.
Robinson says thanks to Cutler he is a kinder, more giving person.
Cutler is proud to say her appetite is coming back and so is her energy. She walks at least two miles a day and is engaged.
Without the website bethematch.org, Cutler may never have found a donor. The website connects patients with bone marrow and stem cell donors.