ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Little 4-year-old Owen Allman needed a hero.
He found one in a 27-year-old medical student living in Chicago.
Steven Marincel was just trying to help.
They met through Be the Match, a bone marrow donor program hosted by Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
“He could have died from this disease,” says Megan Allman, Owen’s mom.
Owen had an immune-system deficiency disease that left him susceptible to infection. But he is now a healthy boy after being matched with Steven and receiving a bone marrow transplant.
Steven joined the Be the Match program after seeing a friend post a request for donors on Facebook.
“All I knew about Owen was that he was male and an infant,” says Marincel. “Until we met today.”
And what a meeting it was, hugs and tears and applause, as Steven finally came face to face with Owen and his parents.
They read books. They played with Lego. Owen gave Steven an Iron Man and a baseball.
They plan on keeping in touch. And they hope more people join the donor program.
Steven says becoming a bone marrow donor isn’t painful at all.
“Steven is part of our family now,” says Bill Allman, Owen’s dad. “He’s with us every day.”
For more information on Be the Match, visit bethematch.org.