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Good News Fridays: Alabama Man Helps Save The Life Of Virginia Boy By Donating Bone Marrow

Welcome to Good News Fridays. Each week, this post features something good, wholesome, positive, and overall something great. We all need something good to read or watch on Fridays!

Post by Mary Wood from Alabama NewsCenter

When Marc Parker received a call last year from a bone marrow registry that a 6-year-old boy needed a lifesaving bone marrow transplant – and Parker was a perfect match – he knew immediately he was ready to donate.

Parker is an engineer based in Birmingham with Alabama Power’s parent company, Southern Company. He was inspired to join the Be the Match registry years ago after his best friend, Clint Cleckler, was diagnosed with leukemia. After a bone marrow transplant, Cleckler became an advocate for the registry and encouraged friends, family and his community to join to potentially save lives.

Cleckler eventually lost his battle with cancer. But six years later, Parker was able to honor his friend’s legacy by helping save the life of a Virginia boy named Zeke who suffered from the same terrible disease. Now 7, Zeke received Parker’s bone marrow as treatment for a rare combination of life-threatening cancers.

Zeke spent 75 consecutive days in the hospital at the height of the pandemic. He was separated from his siblings and only able to see one parent at a time, for the most part. Since receiving the lifesaving transplant, Zeke is doing well and is a healthy and happy boy.

For an entire year, Parker was considered an anonymous donor to Zeke and his family in keeping with Be the Match’s policy. But when that year was up, both families agreed they wanted to meet.

Because of special circumstances in Zeke’s case, the organization chose to highlight him and his family at the annual Be the Match Gala in Minneapolis. This meant Parker and Zeke met for the very first time on stage at the fundraising event.

“Meeting Zeke was incredibly humbling. I felt so full meeting him and his parents. They are wonderful people,” Parker said. “This has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life and I feel lucky that I’m the one who got to match with Zeke.”

After the meeting Zeke’s family expressed their gratitude on Facebook: “Marc, thank you. Thank you for signing up, for honoring Clint, for being a SUPERHERO, for giving a part of YOU to save all of Zeke!”

Zeke gifted Parker with some of his “courage beads” that he earned while undergoing treatment as a way to thank him and to share something of himself with the person who helped save his life.

Zeke and Parker have been featured on many news outlets, sharing their story of the positive impact the experience has had on their lives. They share their story in the hope that others are moved to join the registry.

While Parker wasn’t sure what meeting Zeke and his family would be like, the two families have made a strong connection. For his part, Parker is looking forward to spending more time with Zeke and his family in the future – each time a reminder of his best friend.

“This is just one life that was saved because of Clint’s advocacy for the bone marrow donation registry,” Parker said. “There is no telling how many more lives have been saved because of him.”

For more information about Be the Match, including how to join the bone marrow registry, click here.

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