It was a day of gratitude and first time meetings at the City of Hope in Duarte during the cancer center's annual bone marrow transplant reunion on Friday.
Ryan Compton, 8, put on a new soccer jersey from England, a gift from the person who gave him life. Barry Crackett, 34, was Ryan's exact marrow match, and now Ryan is a healthy and precocious little boy.
Crackett remembers reading the thank you letter from Ryan just after his wife, Jessica, gave birth to their son.
"Very choked up. Just becoming parents for the first time, it sort of really hit home," Crackett said.
"I was always constantly thanking him when I would see Ryan sleeping, breathing, you name it," Ryan's mother, Maggie Compton said.
Joseph Mandel, 63, received his new bone marrow in 2010 from a man a third of his age, donor Nevo Segal, 25, from Israel.
"To meet somebody who's your match, I mean perfect match, and then saved your life," Mandel said. "It's unbelievable."
And they all are paying it forward. Manuel's daughter has hosted drives that has led to other matches. The Comptons are also getting the word out. Ryan's diverse background, Mexican-American, Russian, German, Polish and native American, created great odds in finding a match.
"We need more minorities on the registry, because they're really underrepresented," Compton said.
The group will be spending the week together taking a trip to San Francisco.