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Man Gets to Meet NY Firefighter Who Saved His Life With Bone Marrow Donation

Man Gets to Meet NY Firefighter Who Saved His Life With Bone Marrow Donation

Gary Williams (r.), a 55-year-old Yankees fan from Mississippi, will meet firefighter Alex Lee who donated bone marrow to Williams and saved his life. [AP]

New York Daily News via YellowBrix

January 25, 2010

NEW YORK CITY – A Mississippi tourist’s first trip to New York will include all the regular attractions, plus an unusual stop at the downtown Brooklyn home of the city’s Bravest.

He’s going off the beaten track to say thanks to a man he’s never met.

Gary Williams, 55, received a lifesaving donation of bone marrow, and Monday he’ll get a chance to meet the young firefighter who selflessly gave of himself to save a stranger’s life.

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“I just hope I don’t…sob and slobber all over him,” said Williams with a laugh as he anticipated the ceremony at FDNY headquarters. “It’s going to be a pretty exciting deal.”

Firefighter Alex Lee, 27, was in the Fire Academy in 2005 when he signed up to donate marrow if the New York Blood Center ever found a match.

Two years later, he got the call.

Williams, a tractor technician, had been diagnosed with leukemia and was in desperate need of stem-cell donations.

“To be honest, I thought that was the end of my life,” said Williams. "I prayed on it, but I thought, ‘Well, now I’m going to die.’ "

Williams spent two weeks in an intensive care unit before the transplant.

But the difficult procedure went well, much to the delight of the firefighter who didn’t think twice about helping.

“I might go 20 years without pulling someone out of a burning building,” said Lee, who works at Engine 69 in Harlem. "But I could do this now.

“It was really rewarding and it feels good,” he said. “It’s a very easy way to help.”

Williams said he grew up a Yankees fan in tiny Brandon, Miss., watching the Bombers’ games on TV.

Thanks to Lee’s gift of life, he was able to make his first trip to the ballpark in the Bronx.

“Mickey Mantle was my favorite player growing up and I just had to buy his T-shirt,” said Williams. “I’ve got a chance to be a kid again.”