When Steven donated his bone marrow to an anonymous patient in January of 2017, he knew it didn’t matter who the person was or if he’d ever meet them. It was simply the right thing to do. Growing up a close friend had a cousin who was diagnosed with leukemia and ultimately needed a transplant. Unfortunately, he could not find a match and ended up passing away, but the memory of that young man dying simply because he could not find a matching donor left an indelible print on his mind. As he succinctly put it, “We could help save people’s lives by doing nothing more than swabbing our cheeks. C’mon!”
Steven’s story began in 2011 when he registered during a drive at his company in honor of a young Pakistani-American boy named Rayan. Rayan faced heightened difficulty in finding a match due to his south Asian ancestry, something that felt particularly poignant to Steven who is half Chinese, half European Jewish. Knowing the difficulties faced by diverse and multiracial patient populations in finding their bone marrow match, Steven hoped that his registration could potentially help someone of a similar background, who would likely be facing steep odds in getting their second chance. While it seemed like a lofty goal at the time, six years later Steven did exactly that.
In September of 2016 Josh Wildhorn, a 21 year old recent college grad, received the devastating news that he had leukemia. Playing guitar in a band in the Seattle area he had had plans to dedicate his time to music and touring, but all of that had to be put on hold as he began treatment. After traditional chemotherapy and CAR-T cell treatments were deemed ineffective, Josh was told that a bone marrow transplant would be his only chance to survive. Due to his mixed race, the likelihood of finding his matching donor would have been very low…if Steven hadn’t already been on the list, waiting for just this opportunity.
On July 10th, 2019, nearly 3 years after his initial diagnosis, Josh met Steven for the first time at the NY studios of ABC7. In front of family, friends, and multiple news cameras, the two shared an emotional moment and began to learn more about their new “sibling.” For Steven, seeing Josh standing before him, healthy and laughing, was the biggest rewards he could have received and simply reconfirmed his original thought, “it doesn’t matter who you’re helping, because ultimately that person has parents, siblings, friends, etc. They have people who love them and that’s why we should help.”