'It's the Biggest Thing in the World You Did for Me': Man Saves Stranger's Life With Bone Marrow Donation - NBC Southern California
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'It's the Biggest Thing in the World You Did for Me': Man Saves Stranger's Life With Bone Marrow Donation

Sergio Ramirez had just a 15 percent chance of survival



    Life-Saving Donation Creates Lasting Bond

    Two Southern California men are now connected through a lasting bond because one's selfless act saved the other's life. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 11 on Sunday, June 18, 2017. (Published Sunday, June 18, 2017)

    The connection between Los Angeles residents Sergio Ramirez and Michael Palacios is as deep as the marrow of their bones.

    By the time the two men first met in April at the City of Hope's annual Bone Marrow Transplant Program Reunion, Palacios had already played a major role in saving 35-year-old Ramirez' life.

    In 2013, Ramirez -- a young father of three boys -- received the grave news that the leukemia he had overcome years before was back and that he had just a 15 percent chance of survival.

    Ramirez soon became involved at an immunology trial treatment at the City of Hope in Duarte, but he still needed a bone marrow transplant in order to be cancer free.

    In 2011, Michael Palacios, then 24, had signed up to be on the National Bone Marrow Registry with dreams of helping someone. He was volunteering at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles at the time and often traveled for humanitarian causes.

    Finding a bone marrow match is often especially difficult for Hispanic individuals, Ramirez said, because donation rates are lower among the Hispanic community.

    But Palacios was not the first bone marrow match for Ramirez. Ramirez had three matches and was first paired with another donor, who later backed out.

    Palacios, however, was more than willing.

    "It resonated in my mind, like, when am I going to donate?" Palacios said.

    Palacios said that his bone marrow donation, which he noted was a five to 10 minute procedure, was just a "small step" in comparison to what Ramirez has undergone fighting cancer -- but to Ramirez the act meant much more.

    "You call it a small thing, but for me it's the biggest thing in the world you did for me," Ramirez told Palacios.

    Ramirez' cancer is now in remission and he will be celebrating his 36th birthday in June, grateful to spend another year with his family because of what Palacios did for him.

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