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'Be a Match' Foundation and Channel 3 finds a match locally
Last spring Channel Three partnered up with the "Be the Match" Foundation to put together several Bone Marrow Registry drives.
My nephew Miles was suffering from his second round of Leukemia, and working on the drives was a great way to help the cause.
In June, He had a successful transplant thanks to cord blood from Australia.
So many groups and folks stepped in to help the Blue Wahoos, church leaders and the students at Pensacola State College all hosted drives.
And just a couple of weeks ago thanks to the drive at Pensacola State College a match was made between one of our local college students and a patient.
Planes land here all day everyday but on this morning, off this particular plane steps a hero.
Aaron Heintzelman would probably shrug off that title but it fits the 20 year old college student.
Heroes save lives and that's just what Aaron is returning from doing.
"There was a drive for Miles up at PSC and I decided to go ahead and give and it just to help him out or help anybody else that needed my bone marrow."
Last spring, Aaron saw the news stories, billboards and flyers about the "Be the Match" Bone Marrow drives. He stopped in was swabbed and got the call he was a match.
His first reaction was shock.
"I had some thinking to do, but I knew I was gonna go through with it."
Aaron describes a rushed process of blood work, tests and quick plans for travel. His match was waiting.
"I felt, I'm his best chance at living and even if I give him a couple more weeks or multiple years, it's more time with his family than he had before."
Aaron says he was put under anesthesia for about two hours while marrow was extracted from his hip bones.
He says he was a little sore in his lower back, but that was all.
If they're lucky, heroes return to hugs from pretty girls and grateful mothers.
Miles Wright's mom, Paula Knight, met Aaron at the gate.
"Very brave thing you did, thank you. His story inspired me to join the registry. It means a lot to our family and I just want to thank you."
During the Be the Match drives, Miles' picture and story were used to show the need and urgency for donors. At the time, the reserved teen was not thrilled to be so public.
Now he understands.
"Reflecting back on it and hearing all the good news, now it was a blessing to be the face of such a major issue, especially for ethnicity's and I feel like the real heroes are the ones who are out actually signing up on a registry and actually making a choice to save somebody else's life and it really shows a lot of courage and character."
"I'm on cloud nine right now, it's a great feeling to know that I've possibly saved somebody's life."
Aaron only knows the age and diagnosis of his match.
In a year, Aaron's match may contact him if they chose to do so.