Gift of Life and NY Mets celebrate 15 years of bringing together blood cancer survivors and heroes who gave them a second chance
NEW YORK, MAY 21 – In a stirring Citi Field ceremony before the Mets-Nationals game last night, Brian Veith, 24, of Burlington, Conn., reunited with his life-saving donor 15 years after receiving a bone marrow transplant at age nine.
Just before the game, Veith came together once again with Dr. Adam Lish, 53, of Woodmere, LI, who donated marrow to the boy when he was battling a potentially fatal immune disorder, familial erythrophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.
“I’m very lucky I get to go to work every day, but if I don’t show up, some other eye doctor will do it,” said Lish. “But this is the sort of thing, I was the only one who could do it, and that was just a tremendous gift for me.”
The pair were introduced in 2004 at Shea Stadium a year after Veith’s bone marrow transplant, marking the first time the Mets hosted a donor and recipient who Gift of Life matched. The Mets and Gift of Life have partnered to bring together donors and recipients, many coming together for the first time, every year since.
“I was just a kid then. But now, I realize, I would not be here” were it not for his donor,” said Veith. “There are really no words you can say to thank him.”
Also attending the reunion was Mark DeFrancesco Jr., 26, of West Haven, Conn., who at age 11 was battling acute myeloid leukemia until receiving bone marrow from Samuel Aronoff, 36, of Highland Park, N.J. He and his donor met at the same game as Veith and Lish did. DeFrancesco and Veith also both received their transplants at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and became lifelong friends.
DeFrancesco, who has led two swab drives in the past few months, most recently recruiting 150 people to join the registry, said that “you can never give back for what Gift of Life has done.”
This fall, Gift of Life and the Mets will celebrate 15 years of collaboration, when the registry honors the Mets with their Corporate Partner Award at the Gift of Life One Huge Night Gala in New York City on September 17.