NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Pennsylvania college student who was the benefactor of two bone marrow transplants met the man who saved her life for the first time on Wednesday.
Angela Rugh, a 22-year-old junior at the University of Pittsburgh, came face to face with firefighter Doug Chiz at FDNY headquarters in downtown Brooklyn to thank him.
“It was just amazing. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to meet the person who donated for me,” Rugh told CBS 2’s Steve Langford.
Chiz, 29 is with Ladder Company 136 in Elmhurst. Five years ago, he donated his stem cells and his bone marrow twice to help Rugh battle a very aggressive form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She is now cancer-free, Langford reported.
“I didn’t even know it was a firefighter until a couple days ago,” Rugh told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria. “I thought that was pretty cool. I’m very, very thankful.”
Rugh talked about what she went through at the FDNY’s annual bone marrow donors ceremony. She said she likely would have died from the disease.
“At one point, I couldn’t even eat. I was like in [Intensive Care Unit] and it was difficult,” Rugh said.
Chiz, for his part, said the bone marrow transplant was only slightly painful and it was well worth it.
“Small price to pay, minimal pain. Discomfort, I would say, in the days following the donation. Now, five years later, I don’t even remember that compared to this,” Chiz told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “The payoff is definitely greater than anything that I went through.”
One of New York’s Bravest said he was honored to meet his recipient.
“To now know that she is doing very well, it’s a great feeling,” Chiz told Langford.
The firefighter’s family was on hand to watch Rugh and Chiz meet for the first time.
“I’m very proud. What a wonderful thing, experience to save somebody’s life. It’s great. I’m very proud of him” Chiz’s father, Bob, told Langford.
Members of the FDNY make up the New York Blood Center’s single largest group of donors.
In all, there are 8,000 FDNY firefighters registered as bone marrow donors and 149 Fire Department members have actually provided bone marrow to patients in need.
If you would like to find out more about being a donor, you can visit bethematch.org.
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