MAYWOOD, Ill. — Doctors diagnosed 36-year-old Kristen Lucca with an aggressive form of leukemia in 2016. That same year, 26-year-old Lauriel Wright of Phoenix, AZ signed up to be a bone marrow donor, getting her cheek swabbed at her local mall by an organization called Be the Match.
Wright received the call a year later, and went in to donate her marrow in 2017. A single mother of two girls who are 10 and 12 years old, Lucca said that small act changed her life, saying she owes everything to her donor.
"It's so amazing that someone who was a stranger to me would take time out of their life to help save me. I'm so thankful and grateful for her," Lucca said.
In addition to leukemia, doctors told Lucca she had a gene mutation that made it more likely for the cancer to come back if she was only treated with chemotherapy, making the transplant even more necessary.
The day before Lucca's 37th birthday, the two met in person during an emotional afternoon Sunday at the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center at Loyola University Medical Center.
"It's surreal; I don't know how you put it into words, what it means to save a life and to be able to have her be with her family and her kids is beautiful," Wright said.