NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One of New York’s bravest saved a life recently by donating bone marrow, and on Wednesday, the hero firefighter got a chance to meet the recipient.

As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, firefighter Michael McCauley of Staten Island was honored for the first time at the Downtown Brooklyn FDNY Headquarters Wednesday. Also for the first time, he got to meet Aaron Faulkner, the leukemia patient he saved with a bone marrow transplant.

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Faulkner, of Pittsburgh, is a veteran U.S. marine who served in Iraq. In 2013 – while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries – he was diagnosed with leukemia, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

It turned out that McCauley’s marrow was a perfect match.

“Well I only serve a city, but I helped someone who served the country and to me that is something bigger,” he said.

Faulkner and McCauley looked a bit uncomfortable standing in the spotlight, but Faulkner spoke from the heart about McCauley’s life-saving gift.

“Without Michael, I had no hope of seeing my children grow up,” Faulkner said. “Got to teach my little girl to walk; see her first birthday cake.”

Faulkner’s wife, Leslie, said meeting Michael was a huge blessing.

“I wouldn’t have had an opportunity or hope for the future with my husband, so it meant the world to me to meet him and thank him in person,” she said.

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McCauley comes from a long line of firefighters, and said the decision to become a bone marrow donor was simple.

“I just want to help someone – and any way that I can do that,” he said. “It really is easy to join this. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t.”

McCauley joined the donor registry while in probationary firefighter school — with a simple swab of the cheek, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported. Just a few months later learned he was a match.

He was able to donate non-surgically, and said the process was painless and similar to donating blood.

The Faulkners said their children know all about their hero firefighter.

“They know that we’re into New York meeting daddy’s hero,” Leslie Faulkner said.

Members of the FDNY make up New York Blood Center’s single largest group of bone marrow donors. The room was full of heroes who were added to the Honor Roll of Life.

So far, 171 of New York’s Bravest have had matches with patients in need, and more than 8,000 members of the FDNY are on the potential donor list.

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Faulkner will be on medication for the next six months, but his prognosis is good for a full recovery. He and firefighter McCauley plan to stay in touch.