PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It was a reunion 20 years in the making, a Texas man agreed to donate his bone marrow to a teenager battling Leukemia; that was back in 1996, and now the two are being reunited at Phoenix Children's Hospital.
Nicole Ewing was a teenager in 96 and was suffering from acute Leukemia, at the age of 15, she was battling a relapse and a life-threatening case of pneumonia. She needed a bone marrow donor badly.
"They did tests and came back and said I had relapsed and the only way to cure the cancer was a bone marrow transplant. So they had to go to a national donor list and that is where they found Luis," said Nicole Ewing.
That's when a call came, and doctors found a match with Luis Mendez from Texas, who donated his bone marrow.
"It's wonderful to still see her and see how she's grown into the beautiful woman she is, she's still active, healthy, and strong," said Luis Mendez.
Dr. Roberta Adams now works at Phoenix Children's Hospital; she performed the transplant 20-years-ago.
"It's spectacular to be able 20 years later to see somebody who I took care of when they were very, very sick," said Dr. Roberta Adams.
The donor and the recipient saw each other since then at the 2002 Olympics, but the reunion Thursday was suited for these champions of the heart.
We could never, I don't think there's any way you can thank him enough for what he's done for me and my family," said Ewing.
Nicole's health has rebounded, and she now works as a nurse for a home pediatrics company providing one on one help for children.
"She's a nurse, she's given back because somebody gave to her, it's just wonderful to see her again," said Mendez.
Luis now speaks and volunteers at blood drives.
"The more people we can get on the registry, the greater chance we have of helping the community," said Mendez.
He says it's important to find out if you're a match, and you could save a life.
"70% of people who need a bone marrow transplant really rely on unrelated volunteer donors like Luis," said Dr. Adams.