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FDNY Honors Life-Saving Bone Marrow Donors

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and the New York Blood Center added the names of 13 bone marrow donors to the “Honor Roll of Life” at the 10th annual induction ceremony for the blood center Wednesday.

At the ceremony, firefighter Christopher Howard, 31, of the Engine 255 firehouse in Brooklyn, met John Ciempa, 66, of Lakeland, Fla. – to whom he donated life-saving bone marrow.

In 2010, Ciempa was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome, and was told he would only have months to live without a bone marrow match following chemotherapy.

In May 2012, Ciempa received the donation from Howard, CBS 2′s Kristine Johnson reported.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Ciempa said on Wednesday, “His stem cells keep me going. I talk to my body every day and I say, ‘I accept these stem cells.’”

Howard made the life saving donation as part of  along tradition of giving back. He was inspired to join the FDNY by his firefighter father and was moved by the generosity of Terry Farrell, one of the first New York City firefighters to donate marrow, both of those men were lost on 9/11.

“That really meat a lot to me that not only could I carry on my dad’s legacy doing what I’m doing but carry Terry’s legacy on also,” Howard said.

To date, a total of 162 FDNY members have donated bone marrow – sometimes more than once – accounting for 10 percent of all New York Blood Center donors, according to a news release.

A list of New York Blood Center blood drives and donor center locations is available at http://www.nybloodcenter.org, or by calling (800) 933-2566.

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