A California father is a cancer survivor thanks to a priceless gift from his Hawaii bone marrow donor.
David Ohara and Ed Nako met for the first time nearly 2 years after the transplant. Ohara said of Nako's donation, "If he didn't do what he did, there would be a good chance that I wouldn't be here today."
In 2012, the Honolulu man got a call out of the blue that he was a match for a Sacramento father of three, battling leukemia.
"When that call came in, I was hesitant because I wasn't sure what I was getting into" explained Nako. "But when I flipped the script and thought about it as what about the patient? How would my decision affect the patient? It affects not just him, but it will affect spouse, kids, family, friends, community. That overwhelmed me and I thought this is a no brainer from here."
14 months after the transplant, the two exchanged their first emails on Thanksgiving, then Christmas cards.
Nako was moved seeing pictures of the Ohara ohana. "You could tell he looks very healthy, he looked real full of life. His family around him. That was really uplifting to see that."
Then came plans to meet in person, in Hawaii. Nako is happy to host Ohara, his wife, and three girls, the 51-year old's motivation to get healthy. "You know it's 3 daughters you have to walk down the aisle" explained Ohara.
Nako adds, "His source of inspiration is right there with him. The thing about it is he has those reasons to keep living."
Ohara says each day is a gift. "Everyday I consider a blessing. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. If I don't hit the lottery, I don't care because I've hit it already thanks to this gentleman right here."
70-percent of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant are on a list, looking for a compatible stranger, like Nako, willing to answer the call.
"It is for someone else and this person is beloved too so why not do it" says the humble Nako.
Ohara sums up his appreciation this way, "Mahalos to Ed."
To sign up for the National Bone Marrow registry, visit bethematch.org.