New York man receives life-saving transplant courtesy of Florida man

BOCA RATON, FLA. (WSVN) - A stranger and another man who gave him a second chance at life met face-to-face in South Florida.

When 50-year-old Julio Rivera, of New York, needed a transplant to save his life, a 23-year-old Florida man stepped in to answer his prayers.

Both were invited to a charity event in Boca Raton.

If you saw them today, you’d think they’ve been best friends for life, but they’re actually seeing each other for the first time.

“I was diagnosed with AML leukemia in 2015 in November,” Rivera said. “The saddest day of my life.”

Rivera found relief to his condition through the Gift of Life Marrow Registry.

His savior: Ryan Corning.

He thought to donate bone marrow six years ago after a high school presentation.

“I never thought I was gonna get called,” Corning said. “I thought I’d be another number in the representation. I ended up getting called two and a half years ago.”

They stood together on Sunday with twice as much hope for the future.

“I can’t wait to get to know you,” Rivera told Corning.

They were both brought together in Boca Raton as special guests in a 5K race from what Corning calls a simple deed.

“The little things you have to do, like a blood transfusion is like nothing compared to all the rewards a recipient can have,” Corning said.

Rivera couldn’t be more grateful for his new long-time best friend.

“He saved my life,” Rivera said. “He saved my life.”

As for the event itself, the proceeds will go to fight for a cure to blood cancer through stem cell and bone marrow transplants.

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