BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA9) -- Only on 9, a local man has learned what it's like to save a life. And the best part of all is it's something almost every one of us can do. In fact, one man's life-saving journey proved to be life-changing for him.
Joe Robinson and Anita Cutler hugged and cried when they met a few weeks ago in Massachusetts. Two strangers, each giving the other an unforgettable gift.
"Thank you for saving my life!" said Anita through tears.
"It took my breath away. It was one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me," said Joe. "I didn't realize at all until I met her how sick she was."
Let's back up a moment and retrace the remarkable path that brought them together.
Joe, a Bethesda family man, joined the national bone marrow registry at a local synagogue's donor drive 10 years ago and didn't give it another thought.
"Thanks to Joe, I'm alive. He gave me my world back," said Anita.
Anita had just weeks to live without a bone marrow donor. Suffering from leukemia, doctors gave her just a 5% chance of survival.
"I just thank God for you every day," said Anita.
From the start, Joe was an unlikely candidate.
"Joe got a splinter when I was giving birth to our six year-old and asked the doctor if he could leave the room and get a band aid," said Ellen Robinson, Joe's wife.
"I was always afraid of blood and needles, I never liked going to doctors' offices and getting my blood even drawn," said Joe.
"He's not exactly one for medical procedures," chimed in Ellen.
But he was Anita's perfect match.
Joe gave Anita his stem cells. But it was Anita who gave Joe a new life.
"Really she helped Joe find himself and his passion. And I think his passion is to help other people find their matches," said Ellen.
"If you can give just a few minutes of your time, and make such a dramatic difference to this person's life, how can you not do it?"
As for Anita, her leukemia is not just in remission. Doctors say she is cured.
You may be the perfect match for someone, somewhere. It costs nothing but a few minutes of your time to sign up:
Donors are desperately needed among people of color. 50% of those in need never find their match.
As for the procedure, a lot of us are pretty squeamish about needles, but Joe tells us he had to get a couple of shots a day for a few days leading up to his stem cell donation. Nothing worse than a flu shot, he promises. Joe donated on a Friday, rested up over the weekend and was back at work Monday morning.
Written by Andrea McCarren, WUSA9